Eco-sustainability and funerals

Eco funeral outside

Eco-sustainability and funerals – can they work in tandem?

How can funerals be kinder to the environment? Today, people are becoming more and more aware of their own impact on the environment and are searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Preservation of our environment is certainly a hot topic at the moment and one way to help could be to choose an eco-friendly funeral. So, what is the most environmentally friendly option?

In this latest article from CPJ Field, we look at eco-sustainability and funerals, and what you can do to make a funeral less harmful to the environment. We also explore different ways that you can adopt to reduce the environmental impact of a burial or cremation.

What is an eco-friendly funeral?

It is a way of honouring the person who has died, in an environmentally responsible way. The aim is always to reduce CO2 emissions. It might involve a natural burial, reducing the use of toxic materials used in traditional embalming, and avoiding resource intensive coffins. The funeral would then take place in restricted woodland areas.

Cremation versus burial

One of the first decisions when considering eco-sustainability and funerals is whether you have a burial or a cremation? Both have environmental impacts, although at first glance it would seem that a burial is considered the greenest option. The Natural Death Centre reports that one cremation uses as much energy in the form of gas and electricity as a 500-mile car trip or a flight from London to Rome. It’s also points out that 400 kilos of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere as well as mercury vapour and other pollutants. In general, cremation tends to have higher energy consumption and emissions. But when considering a burial, it will use a certain amount of precious land with burial space at a premium. Burial is also associated with using embalming fluids, which can leak into groundwater and contaminate. Traditional coffins are not a sustainable option, as they are made of wood and metal. Cremation fumes include vaporised mercury from tooth fillings along with toxic emissions from prosthetics and materials used in surgeries such as knee and hip replacements.

Eco-friendly funeral options

When considering eco-sustainability and funerals, a natural or green burial is considered to be the most eco-friendly. They can take place in a cemetery or memorial ground, woodland or in your home or private land. The body can be buried in a natural coffin, which is biodegradable and is made of bamboo, willow, banana leaf or even cardboard, and sometimes the body is wrapped in a shroud. In this situation embalming is not usually allowed due to the chemicals involved in the process.

Environmental consequences of a green burial

The space required for a grave and its actual digging will have a direct impact on the land and the soil, and if the process is not controlled, it can cause contamination. Toxic pollution can be the result of embalming chemicals and the use of headstones creates carbon in their production. It should also be noted that woodland locations can often only be reached by motorised vehicles, and consequently there is an environmental impact of the guests trying to get to a remote location.

How can you help with eco-sustainability and funerals?

  • Use natural living memorials
  • Use a natural coffin or one sourced from wood accredited by the Forestry Stewardship Council
  • Source flowers from a local florist who use environmentally friendly growing methods and packaging

With a natural burial, a shallow grave is dug, and a biodegradable coffin is used, with no permanent memorial. In the UK there are currently 360 natural burial sites, where someone can be buried in meadows, orchards or woodland in a way that preserves the existing habitat. Environmental awareness is on the rise and so are sustainable funerals.

Why choose an eco-sustainable funeral?

  • Reduce the environmental impact
  • Use of biodegradable materials
  • Fewer trees are felled

You might also want to consider using biodegradable urns and sharing lifts to funerals. Also think of travelling in electric vehicles. Memorial trees can also be planted.

How can CPJ Field help with eco-sustainable funerals?

By choosing an eco-friendly funeral, you will be taking a conscious step to help protect the world for future generations. Green burials or efficient cremation practices can help to mitigate some of the environmental impacts. Here at CPJ Field we take our environmental responsibility very seriously. Our funeral directors can advise on the best approach when considering eco-sustainability and funerals and advise on every aspect of our services. To know more about what we offer for green funerals, please contact your local CPJ Field funeral director.

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