What Is a Sustainable Funeral?

A sustainable funeral, also known as an eco-friendly burial, is a ceremony that honors the life lived in a very natural way. As we have become further aware of our carbon footprint and impact on the environment, many people have begun to consider the concept of sustainable funerals in place of traditional burials as they are often considered kinder to the earth. This sort of environmentally friendly burial still allows a person to align with their deeply held religious or traditional beliefs, while also giving back to the earth as a final gift as they depart.

What is a Sustainable Funeral

The Environmental Benefits Of A Sustainable Funeral Can Be Tremendous 

A sustainable burial can be a beautiful way to honor a person who was eco-conscious and has passed. If they were eco-conscious, a sustainable funeral may bring comfort and beauty for those who live on. For comparison, according to the Green Burial Council, a traditional burial can generate approximately 250lb. of carbon, whereas a green burial will only produce around 25 lbs. of carbon. 

The Green Burial Council also cites the research of Mary Woodsen of Cornell University and Greensprings Natural Preserve in Newfield, New York, where she researched and tallied the carbon- 

generating resources used in traditional burials.

She concluded that in one year the environmental impact of traditional burial included:

  • 4.3 million gallons embalming fluid, 827,060 gallons of which is formaldehyde,  methanol, and benzene 
  • 20 million board feet of hardwoods, including rainforest woods 
  • 1.6 million tons of concrete 
  • 17,000 tons of copper and bronze 
  • 64,500 tons of steel 
  • Caskets and vaults leaching iron, copper, lead, zinc, and cobalt 

When a person opts for a sustainable funeral, many or in some cases all of these resources may not be utilized. Depending upon the processes used, the sustainable funeral may be completely free of these harmful materials entirely. 

What Is Green Burial? 

Green burial is a process by which no harmful or hazardous chemicals are used in the provision of end of life services. This may include having burial plots that are dug by hand, caskets made of biodegradable material, such as wicker or wood, and even an unbleached burial shroud. There is no cement used in the process, and embalming chemicals are not used so as to leave the surrounding earth free from impact. Many green burial grounds are also wildlife refuges or other natural habitats. For many people, a green burial is considered a final act of giving. 

While it may not be immediately apparent, it is not compulsory or even law that traditional caskets and embalming is required. However, it is important to find out if the cemetery you have chose allows for this. 

Are Cremations Considered Sustainable Funerals? 

Although cremation can be more eco-friendly than traditional burials, they are not currently classified as a sustainable funeral in the United States. The main reason for this relates to the carbon footprint of the cremation process itself. There are a number of sustainable funeral methods currently in use across the United States. It is ideal to create a sustainable funeral that most closely aligns with the life lived.

chosen has any requirements or restrictions that may inhibit your desire for a green burial. 

You Can Make A Difference

As we strive to become a more ecologically responsible species, it is most likely that we will see more people considering and choosing sustainable funerals as their final act of giving back. Sustainable funerals can be a source of great comfort for those who live on, in knowing they helped to contribute to the health of the planet, reduced their impact on the environment, and ultimately made a decision for the generations to come.

We hope that you found this article on ‘What is a Sustainable Funeral?’ helpful. We want to help you make the best decisions for you and your family to celebrate the memory of a life lived. If you have any questions about any of our services please contact us.


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