Many people today who are planning the funeral of a loved one are making greener choices when it comes to funeral and burial traditions. In addition, those who are currently pre-planning for the needs of the future are also interested in learning more about the benefits of a green burial.
Green burials differ from traditional burial methods in several ways. First, for green funerals the body is typically not embalmed. Biodegradable coffins and caskets are used in lieu of traditional caskets made of unsustainable materials. And the use of massive concrete burial vaults and liners has been eliminated.
But what if you are attending a funeral instead of planning one? There are still several things you can do to make a green funeral even greener. For starters, consider the following green memorial gifts:
Eco-friendly flowers: Flowers seem like a naturally green gift, but you might be surprised at what goes in to the production and delivery of most flowers. A number of pesticides and other chemicals may be used in the growing process. However, florists do offer greener options if you still want to send flowers—all you have to do is ask.
Plants instead of flowers: You can also opt to purchase a green plant instead of flowers. While cut flowers are cultivated and then die, plants can be kept as a living memorial for many years. Florists typically offer a nice selection of plants that can be kept in their original containers or transplanted. Green plants can also improve the air quality of a home.
Plant a Tree: Another way to commemorate the life of a loved one is to plant a memorial tree. Check with your local park to see if they have a memorial tree program. You may be able to select the type of tree to be planted and have a memorial plaque made in remembrance of the deceased.
Make a Green Memorial Contribution: Many times obituaries list one or more options for making memorial contributions in honor of someone who has passed away. Look to see if one of the options is a green organization, or make a contribution to an organization you have worked with before. You can ask them to send an acknowledgement to the family.
Meals made of sustainably grown food: In many traditions it is common for friends and relatives to make meals. Consider choosing the ingredients carefully from your own garden, a community garden, or from other locally-sourced grocers.
Cards printed on recycled paper: If you opt to send a card to the family, look for one that has been printed with green ink on recycled paper.
Ideas for Green Memorial Favors
Plantable Seed Cards
These items are made from completely biodegradable natural fibers which have seeds embedded within them. Optional seed choices include forget-me-not flowers and pine trees. Plantable seed cards are a memorable way to say goodbye to a loved one while helping to keep the precious memories you have of them alive. You might want to consider holding a special planting ceremony for family members and close friends. No matter where you might be located, the ceremony will be an act that you can share together. Many seed cards can be personalized, and they come with planting instructions.
Pocket charms are tiny memorials that can be carried with you anywhere. They are small enough to fit in your pocket, but they can help you remember your loved ones. These small tokens of remembrance are increasing in popularity to be handed out as memorial favors to loved ones and funeral guests of the deceased.
Memory cards are memorial favors that offer grieving families a way to mourn and remember. They are usually handed out to funeral guests as they enter the visitation or service. Attendees can write their loving memories of the deceased on the card to be shared for future generations. Not only are they a helpful, consoling act during the funeral, but they also serve as a way to preserve family history and fond memories. To go green, look for memorial cards printed with eco-friendly inks on recycled paper.
Other Assorted products
In addition to seedlings, charms, and remembrance other memorial favors that are suitable for helping family and friends remember a loved one who has passed include cards, candles, vases, and mini photo albums and frames. Whether you choose pottery from a local artisan or handmade soy candles from a local merchant, you have many additional options for sharing memorial favors without creating a negative environmental impact.
Because the goal of planning a natural, green burial is to lessen the negative environmental impact of the entire service, keep your eye out for other eco-friendly funeral practices. From holding visitation during daylight hours to skipping the processional of vehicles, funeral practices are getting greener every day.