Facing one’s own mortality and planning one’s own funeral is not easy. But surely we all want to make sure that we go in the way that reflects how we lived our entire lives. If your whole life you did everything to minimize your carbon footprint, wouldn’t you want to continue doing so after you are gone? With an estimated 150,000 people dying every day worldwide, traditional ‘full-service’ burials have become a growing concern, precisely due to their negative environmental impact and unsustainability. Thankfully, green or natural burial options are becoming more and more available, so now environmentalists can rest peacefully knowing that they did not contribute to this problem. If you are organizing a funeral for yourself or for someone dear to you, you might consider the following options.
Embalming is still a widespread practice, although there are disconcerting indications that embalming fluids, which dissolve into the ground after a burial, can have adverse effects on the environment and animal and plant life. The most commonly used chemical is formaldehyde, which the EPA has classified as carcinogenic. It does not pose a threat only for the environment, but also for the embalmers who are exposed to it every day.
Burial at sea is no longer reserved for sailors. Reef balls are a combination of burial at sea and cremation, but more importantly, they are a way to ensure that your remains will be transformed into something beneficial for Mother Earth and future generations. Your ashes can be used to build artificial coral reefs and to help preserve marine life. Another way to leave a living legacy is seed-hosting biodegradable urns. These urns decompose after being buried into the ground, the seed sprouts, and eventually, the tree becomes a natural alternative to quarried headstones.
Alternatives to cremation
Although cremation is less environmentally damaging than the traditional burial, the process still produces greenhouse gases. This is why, in the last couple of years, people have been seeking alternatives to cremation. One is bio cremation or resomation, in which the body is chemically processed and broken down into its chemical components. The results of resomation are a sterile liquid which can be used for watering gardens and green spaces, and ash which is returned to the family. The pollutants that are emitted in the process are reduced by 35% compared to cremation.
If you still think that traditional burial is the best option, there are ways to reduce its environmental impact. Instead of choosing a mahogany coffin, it is possible to have the coffin made from some other wood, which is not endangered. There are also coffins that are made from 80% waste wood and 20% sustainable wood source. As long as the casket is made of biodegradable materials, such as wood, bamboo, wicker, or cardboard, and as long as metal and plastic are avoided, the coffin will only enrich the soil. Wool, banana leaves, and water hyacinth coffins are also rising in popularity.
Skip floral arrangements
Cut flowers have a high price environment-wise. They are mostly grown in deplorable working conditions and treated with various chemicals and pesticides. Not to mention that their transportation causes more greenhouse gases to be emitted into the environment. Instead, people might send donations to an eco-minded charity of your choice.
Despite the grief for losing a loved one, people at Affinity Funerals recommend that you carefully plan every detail and respect the wishes of the deceased. If they chose to leave a ‘green’ legacy, their wish should be a consolation for you and a reminder that life continues even after death.
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