One of the smartest things business owners can do today is look for ways to incorporate green practices in every possible aspect of operations. It can save businesses money when it comes to operating costs, but it can also help attract a growing number of potential clients who are insisting that the companies they patronize go green.
Funeral homes are no exception, and funeral trade publications like Funeral Business Advisor are urging funeral homes to make green funeral products a part of their business. The simple fact is that green living is not a trend or a fad; it is here to stay.
Going green is often as easy as assessing what changes can be made to daily practices and learning to think outside the box. A number of green funeral products are available, and consumers who want to reduce their end-of-life environmental impact will be on the lookout for these products.
Green Caskets and Coffins
Modern caskets have changed a lot since the days of plain, simple wood boxes. They are made with a number of materials that are unsustainable, unsound for the environment, and un-recyclable. The casket-making industry currently uses thousands of tons of steel, copper and other metals to make burial products. These metals must be mined from the earth, and they are non-renewable.
An alternative to these caskets are eco-friendly models manufactured from sustainable products like heavy cardboard and responsibly-grown seagrass, willow, bamboo, and pine. These caskets and coffins are biodegradable alternatives that will break down naturally in soil.
Green Burial Shrouds
In some cases, the need for a casket can be removed altogether. The burial shroud has been part of a number of religious burial traditions for centuries. A shroud is made of natural cloth, and it is wrapped around the deceased following preparation for interment. Usually, the shrouded body is buried in the grave without the need for a casket. This burial practice consumes very few materials.
Standard cremation urns are not biodegradable, and in some cases cemeteries require an additional outer container when burying cremains. An alternative is to use biodegradable urns that decompose under natural conditions. There are also dissoluble urns that are designed to be an environmentally-friendly method for water burial. To view our selection of eco-friendly urns click here.
Green Embalming Products
Traditionally embalming products have been made with a number of chemicals including formaldehyde. While formaldehyde is known for its preservative qualities, it is also known to be a carcinogen. Environmentalists are opposed to its use in embalming. Other embalming fluids are available now that are greener, but many say the greenest option is to skip embalming altogether.
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. Click here to view the Living Urn system tree memorial.
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 memory 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 including the use of green funeral products. From holding visitation during daylight hours to skipping the processional of vehicles, funeral practices are getting greener every day.