Most of us are finding ways to live a more sustainable life and choose a more eco-friendly alternative in every aspect of our lives. Meanwhile, some are looking at environmental friendly funerals to understand how their approach towards death has an impact on the environment. By reducing the carbon footprints of funerals, we can in turn give back to mother nature by going adapting some eco-friendly methods of conducting funeral ceremonies. Depending on the kind of funeral you are looking for, a cremation or a burial, there is a sustainable alternative for everything.
- Environmentally friendly creation
While we understand that ashes from cremation ceremonies do not have a long-lasting impact on the environment because it does not consist any materials such as metal, it is also not a very efficient process for the environment. Cremations release greenhouse gases and other substances like mercury in the air and the energy consumed in conducting one ceremony is almost equivalent to the amount of energy we use at our home in over a month.
The ashes from cremation ceremonies can be used to grow a tree and give back to the environment. Some alternatives in India have built electric crematoriums that will prevent smoke and pollution. Slowly but steadily people have started adopting a greener alternative in cremation ceremonies but traditions definitely cannot be changed overnight.
- Sustainable coffins and caskets
Another way to reduce carbon footprint is to choose a biodegradable coffin, in case a family chooses to bury the deceased person. Made using sustainable materials such as bamboo, seagrass or cardboards, these biodegradable coffins would break down and dissolve in the soil as it does not contain any materials such as timber or metal. In the case of a cremation, the urns for the ashes can also be made using sustainable materials. When the urns are buried, these biodegradable materials can help in germinating seed or it can act as fertiliser for the plants.
- Virtual ceremonies
Due to the recent Covid-19 pandemic, most of us were left with no choice but to stay home and attend all kinds of ceremonies and events. This is when the concept of virtual funerals started trending as most people opted for zoom prayer meetings or Last journey online memorial services. However, this has become an environmentally friendly alternative due to many reasons. The cost and effort of organising services were saved as there was no waste from food or decorations of the funeral ceremonies. By staying at the comfort of your home and attending ceremonies, people were not using their cars to travel a certain distance for the funeral. This saved the impact of pollution and fuel usage on the environment. The effort of hosting a memorial service for all the guests and family members can come at the expense of the environment as it leads to all kinds of arrangements, catering services and floral decorations.
- Flowers and tributes
It is environmentally more appropriate to choose local and seasonal flowers as a token of love at funeral ceremonies, rather than choosing expensive flowers that have been shipped from other countries. Some decisions, such as giving plastic-free tributes or making sure the flowers are not covered in plastic, can have long-term, positive impacts on the environment. Gifting plants is also a sustainable and thoughtful idea. It allows to bring some sense of greenery in the house and creates a soothing atmosphere in times of difficulty.
- Make sustainable decisions
Small but mindful decisions can be made while hosting or attending a funeral service, which will lower the harmful impact on the environment and allow people to reduce their carbon footprint. Encouraging guests to carpool to the funeral will reduce the pollution and fuel used. Making sure it is a plastic-free funeral by providing biodegradable cups for refreshments and using sustainable materials for decoration. Choosing local vendors to help you with funeral ceremonies can help you save the cost of shipping certain props and reduce the transportation distance and fuel usage.
Searching for funeral plans and choosing your funeral ceremony options can become a tedious job. Several funeral services can guide you through a more sustainable and environmentally friendly funeral ceremony. If you choose to go with professionals to help you plan a funeral ceremony or you are pre-planning your funeral, make sure to check out their sustainable options. Plan and execute, keeping the environment in mind.