Julia McCartney’s passion for people has led her to pursue a writing career with SeniorCare.net. Specializing in Senior Care Living Options, Julia enjoys exploring and writing about important senior care topics.
Funerals and burials often have a serious long-term impact upon the environment. They consume copious amounts of natural resources and cause various types of pollution. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make your funeral more eco-friendly, and like any end-of-life option, you can make sure your preferences are honored with a little advance planning. Some of these options might even decrease the cost of your funeral and burial.
- Select a small casket or urn that is made from a renewable resource.
The Natural Resources Defense Council recommends the use of bamboo urns, and a wood coffin proves more eco-friendly than a fiberglass or metal casket. Biodegradable coffins and urns are available for purchase as well, according to the New York Daily News.
Some people choose eco-friendly burials because they wish to promote the natural cycle of life and death. When choosing the burial clothing or shroud, it’s more eco-friendly to use simple, biodegradable materials. Avoid using multiple layers. This will help the body to decompose naturally and eventually benefit the cemetery’s plant life.
- If you prefer to be buried, choose a burial liner rather than a vault.
Burial vaults use more concrete or steel than liners and they cost more, according to the Federal Trade Commission. A vault may slow the process of decomposition, but it can’t permanently preserve the body. The law doesn’t require vaults, though some cemeteries do.
- Avoid the use of toxic embalming fluids.
They contain formaldehyde and other chemicals. Natural Resources Defense Council warns that embalming fluids can pollute water and soil. One alternative is to use non-toxic embalming fluids; a few funeral homes offer this option. It may become more widespread as demand increases for eco-friendly funerals.
Another option involves direct cremation or burial of the body. People don’t view or visit the body; so, embalming fluid isn’t necessary. State and federal laws seldom require the use of embalming fluids, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This method also significantly reduces the total cost of burial or cremation.
- Request for the body to be cremated.
The Natural Resources Defense Council cautions cremation causes air pollution and consumes fossil fuels, but it indicates this method remains more eco-friendly than burial. Only a small container is necessary to hold the ashes, and there is no need for a headstone or a concrete liner.
Cremation reduces the amount of land devoted to graveyards—cemeteries have both positive and negative effects on the environment. They protect land from development and paving projects, and they allow a few trees to grow as well. On the other hand, cemeteries often use herbicides and gas-powered lawn mowers. They provide relatively little animal habitat.
- Take steps to reduce the environmental impact of your funeral service.
Choose a funeral home which friends and relatives can reach without extensive travel. If some people must travel long distances, consider using a home near an airport or a train station. Recycled paper may be used to print funeral programs and notices.
Some funeral providers, casket suppliers and cemeteries specialize in providing eco-friendly services, and most funeral homes will permit you to request some or all of these changes. Be sure to avoid homes and cemeteries that impose strict rules on embalming or burial. Finally, remember to ensure that family members are aware of your eco-friendly preferences.
View full post on Death With Dignity National Center
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