Whether your religion prohibits the use of embalming fluids or you prefer to avoid adding harmful chemicals to the planet, a “green” burial is Earth friendly and possible. Your body will be returning to the earth in a way it can recycle into new life while decomposing naturally. The first nature-friendly burial operation in America is in Westminister, South Carolina, and it started less than a decade ago. Today, there are over 200 green burial sites currently in the United States, with more woodland cemeteries or eco-cemeteries on the way. These are places where the land is allowed to be in a natural state, without the use of chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides. In an effort to return your body to nature, these Earth friendly cemeteries generally will not accept embalmed bodies. (Learn more about The Dangers of Embalming Fluid and Traditional Funerals)
“Green” burials are typically located in wooded areas and meadows where the upkeep and maintenance is minimal. Forget about the clear-cutting of trees to be replaced with finely manicured lawns of green grass, natural burials might have your final resting place under a newly planted tree or in a meadow of wildflowers. This can be a huge help for the planet as there are over 22,500 cemeteries in the United States alone. That’s a lot of water and maintenance to keep the grass green and trim.
An expensive, engraved gravestone will probably not be needed to mark your location. Let your family plant a tree or use an indigenous, and flat, stone to mark your final resting place. And be sure to let your loved ones know that artificial flowers or decorations aren’t typically allowed. The use of real flowers and wreaths should be encouraged.
Traditional funerals can cost your family a small fortune, often more than a new car, while a natural “green” burial being less expensive. Coffins are typically made of locally harvested wood or even cardboard in an attempt to easily biodegrade into the soil. It’s not even necessary to get a special coffin; you could also be wrapped in a simple cotton blanket or shroud. Get an organic one for even more benefits for the earth.
Other ideas to make your funeral as “green” as possible:
Plant your memorial service invitations to produce wildflowers (shown above). Eco-friendly paper company Twisted Limb Paperworks not only offers 100% post-consumer recycled memorial bookmarks, but invitations and thank you notes can be embedded with wildflower seeds. When you order these handcrafted memorial stationery through Remembrance Tree Papers a tree will be planted by Trees for the Future.
Plant flowers, a shrub or a tree as your grave marker. Today’s natural burial sites use technology to precisely locate your burial site for your loved ones.
Choose a Biodegradable Coffin, Casket or Urn:
ORGANIC COTTON CASKETS – These organic cotton caskets are not only fully biodegradable, but they are a soft and environmentally friendly way to be buried. They are handmade in the United Kingdom.
ECOFFINS – This United Kingdom company offers a wide variety of Earth friendly coffins, caskets and urns. Choose from bamboo, willow, pandanus (an alternative to seagrass), banana (the dried leaves of the banana plant after the tree has produced its fruit), pine and cardboard.
ECOPOD – (shown above) An elegantly simple design for a casket, the Ecopod is handcrafted from recycled newspapers and hand finished with paper made from 100% mulberry pulp. Choose from a wide range of colors.
PASSAGES INTERNATIONAL – In addition to offering Earth friendly caskets made from willow, bamboo, and seagrass, they also offer water and earth biodegradable urns. Water biodegradable urns are meant to float briefly and then sink, while earth biodegradable urns are meant to degrade slowly over time.
Want more? Here are a few you might like from the archives:
- Memorial Ecosystems Started the Trend for Eco-Burial Sites Across the United States
- Embalming Started During the Civil War and Is Not Legally Required in the United States – So Why Is It Still the Most Popular?
- Traditional Funerals are Bad for the Planet
- The Dangers of Embalming Fluid and Traditional Funerals
- Green Burials Offer a Natural Alternative