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Eco-Friendly Funeral Ideas

We are all about giving you options and inspiration!

Planning a funeral can be overwhelming, stressful, devastating and baffling, but also it can act as a chance of creating life out of death and celebrating something beautiful. A greener funeral can return your loved one’s body to the earth and be comforting, bringing unexpected peace at what is typically a sad time.

The awareness of climate change is on the rise. The subject of the environment is now widespread and prominent. People from all walks of life are attempting to change their lifestyles to reduce their impact on the environment. It seems appropriate and comforting for many people to continue their beliefs with an eco-friendly funeral.

What Is An Eco-Friendly Funeral?

An eco-friendly funeral is an alternative to the more traditional burials and funeral services. Natural burials are for everyone. They provide an ideal solution to people who are conscious of reducing their carbon footprint and protecting the environment. Others might prefer the simplicity of a greener burial without the formality of a traditional cemetery. Many people enjoy spending time in unspoiled nature, so a natural burial provides a truly natural resting place. For some, it might be a cheaper option.

You can consider many things to reduce the carbon footprint of your or your loved one’s funeral. You may prefer to keep some traditional funeral elements and choose a green alternative for others.

Biodegradable Urns

Biodegradable urns can hold ashes and naturally decompose over time, becoming part of the environment without leaving a carbon footprint. 

Various natural materials, including paper, bamboo, tree bark and coconut shells, wool fibre, and peat, make biodegradable urns.

With a naturally degrading urn considered safe for the environment, you can find the perfect resting place for your loved one. 

Eco-Friendly Coffins

A traditional funeral includes a veneered wooden coffin. However, it is possible to choose sustainably sourced wood and biodegradable materials for a greener option, including pine, bamboo and banana leaf.

Willow and wicker coffins are among the most popular eco-friendly coffins used since the 19th century. Often made from wood grown in the UK and made by hand using traditional techniques, they offer an elegant choice.

Green Burials.

A green burial, or natural burial, as otherwise known, is an eco-friendly burial that aims to reduce the effects on the environment. Their ethos is to have minimal impact on the surrounding area.

The opening of the first natural burial was in 1993 at Carlisle Cemetery, and they have been growing in popularity ever since. There is an Association of Natural Burial Grounds that established codes for ethical burying and helped reach out to a larger audience.

Your loved one is buried in a biodegradable coffin or wrapped in a simple shroud.

Natural burials do not allow embalming due to the chemicals involved in the process, which could pollute the ground.

Digging the grave by hand is the usual way to avoid damage to the land and reduce the carbon footprint produced by machinery.

You can still have a small service, which is often simpler. You can share stories of your loved ones to add a personal touch.

A few burial sites will permit a biodegradable memorial or plant a tree at the grave. Other green burial sites prefer to leave no trace.

Natural Burial Sites

The ethics behind a green burial is to return the body to the earth as naturally as possible. Green burial sites are managed with ecological principles in mind and often take place in protected areas of green space, wild meadows or woodland burials

Natural burial sites provide the perfect choice for someone who loves to spend time in nature. They also offer perfect surroundings to visit your loved one in the peace and tranquility of the countryside, silent, except for the wildlife.

Cremations

Cremations damage the environment, and there is a significant carbon footprint. A cremation uses the same energy as heating a home for a week.

If cremation is a way you would like to go, then there are cremation services that make the process simpler and more cost-effective and better for the environment. They apply the latest filtration systems to reduce harmful environmental emissions, including dust particles. They also use carbon filters to minimise the release of mercury into the atmosphere. Crematoriums can capture heat within the crematorium to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.

Is Cremation environmentally friendly? 

Whilst cremation is better for the environment than burial, cremation still requires alot of energy. The average cremation takes up the same amount of energy as 2 full tanks of fuel and expells about 534.6 pounds of carbon dioxide according to NaturalGeographic

Direct Cremation

If cremation is a route you are going to take , then direct cremation might be a greener option for you.
Direct cremations cut out the ceremony, which results in less travel and less carbon being emitted by guests. For more information, read our direct cremation guide.

There is an alternative to cremation and burial….

Resomation (water cremation) 

A funeral involving resomation is very similar to that of a cremation, until the point at which the coffin is committed from view. The coffin is placed in a special pressure chamber, but instead of fire, resomation uses water and an alkali-based method to reduce the body down to its basic elements. Once complete, the liquid is drained off and you end up with a pure white powder (very similar to cremation ashes), which can be placed in an urn for you to take and keep or potentially scatter

Keep it Local (Bikes anyone?)

Encourage attendees to take shorter car journeys, and some may even walk or cycle or car share to reduce the carbon footprint of travel.

We really like the idea (if held a suitable time of year) to encourage attendees to cycle to the funeral. Perhaps you can arrange for bikes to be decorated or adorned with flowers. 

Improved technology, brought about by Covid, now means you can attend a funeral virtually instead of catching a plane.

Go Electric

With the growing concern of environmental issues, many funeral services are carbon neutral and use electric hearses.

See our list of eco-conscious funeral directors to discuss your options and needs.

Ask for donations 

People often send flowers to a traditional funeral service. Flowers might seem like an eco-friendly option, but they are usually wrapped in plastic and involve extra transport miles to deliver flowers. 

You could opt for locally sourced organic flowers or even omit the flowers altogether and ask friends and family to donate to an eco-friendly organisation. 

Plant a Tree

Instead of a headstone, plant a tree. The process of extracting the stone, transportation and carving a stone into a headstone leaves behind a considerable carbon footprint.

Planting a tree positively impacts the environment. Leaving behind a growing memorial to your loved one.

Ask your natural burial ground for details about a burial plot.
If you plan to plant a tree in the wild and scatter the ashes at the site you might want to understand the laws and requirements for scattering ashes first

Give green keepsakes to attendees

Another lovely idea could be to give attendees of the funeral or celebration of life an eco-friendly keepsake. We love the idea of giving away a box of seeds to plant to serve as a reminder of the person who has passed.

Memorial reefs

Is your loved one passionate about the sea or the environment? A memorial reef changes ashes into something environmentally beneficial. Ashes are transformed into artificial coral reefs to generate a healthy sea environment, and your loved one becomes a living memory.

Meat-free Service

Everyone loves a good party and celebrating the life of the deceased is no different. We really feel that life should be celebrated at such a sad time.
Why not extend the eco funeral feel to the wake and after funeral celebration by offering meat-free (or sustainably sourced) food at the ceremony. Let the guests know that this was a key part of the deceased life and important to them.

FAQ

is cremation bad for the environment?

Whilst not as bad as traditional burial, cremation still does account for a large amount of carbon into the atmosphere every year. Water cremation or natural burial are 2 alternative options. 

What is the most eco friendly way to be buried?

Green or natural burials are the most eco friendly way to  be buried. 

Is it better for environment to be cremated or buried?

Cremation is better for the environment than burial but there are other options available to, if you have the time to research a bit.

What is a green alternative to cremation?

Natural burial or water cremation would be 2 eco friendly alternatives to a typical cremation service.


We would love you to share your eco-friendly funeral ideas to empower families to create a funeral that suits the deceased wishes and personality. There is no one size fits all approach when planning a funeral.