As consumers become more conscious of the impact their decisions have on the environment, the concept of burial has changed. Where once a person’s last rights were a reflection of their success and status in life, many have realized that this is a frivolous, selfish way to look at a funeral, especially when considering the environmental impacts.
One way you can negate this damage is to consider a green funeral. Green funerals are able to offset and minimize damage to the ecosystem. Below, we give seven reasons to choose a green funeral.
What is the Environmental Impact of a Traditional Funeral?
Firstly, for burial, although many caskets seem to be made of natural materials they are often chemically treated. As they rot, these chemicals go back into the soil. As your body is inside, it takes a very long time for the nutrients from a decomposing body to return to the earth.
Approximately 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde soak into US soil each year. This is from the process of embalming a body then burying it.
The aesthetic look of a cemetery is also a huge ecological factor. Cemeteries that are well kept come at a cost and that is in the use of pesticides and fertilizers to keep them lush and green. Where you are laid to rest is just as much a deciding factor as to how it is done.
Add to this the waste of natural resources such as cut flowers, wood, and metal for the casket, and waste soon mounts up. A green funeral negates the impact of all of these problems.
1. Cremation or Burial?
The benefits of cremation are that it is a very green way to have a funeral. Despite the burning of the body releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the other benefits outweigh and many crematoriums have filtration equipment to cut down on these gas releases.
You can also opt for a water burial using alkaline hydrolysis. This will negate any of the damage caused to the environment that you would get from a traditional flame cremation.
2. Cut Down on Transport
A major factor that is often overlooked when considering a green funeral is transport implications. If the body is traveling hundreds of miles via air or road, and other cars are in convoy on the way to the funeral, the ecological impacts are far higher. A real green funeral will utilize a funeral closer to home or at the place where the body has been stored.
3. It Cuts Down-Cut Flower Use
Green funerals seldom have wreaths and bouquets of cut flowers on hand. This is because the cutting and transportation of these goods have a huge environmental impact.
Many US cut flowers are grown overseas and imported, adding long-range transportation impact. These flowers are often treated with chemicals to make them last longer, destroying the land around the fields and farms. Many workers are in less than safe and fair conditions when working at these places.
If you do require flowers, try to source from a local supplier. Alternatively, there are many options for eco flower companies and organic flowers now working in the US.
4. It Saves Land
Cemeteries are huge, and many people believe they are quite unnecessary. A typical cemetery can contain approximately enough wood to build 40 homes. Add to this the valuable land they take up, and it becomes obvious that they could be used for better purposes.
Having ashes scattered negates this problem. If your loved ones want a place to seek sanctuary once you are gone, opt for a plaque or object in memorial, such as a bench. One idea is to plant a cremation tree, so they can watch it grow as the years go by.
5. Cuts Down Mercury Emissions
The release of Mercury emissions in cremation is a contentious one. Mercury is a poisonous substance that causes damage to the environment and the ozone layer when it is burnt. In traditional funerals, many see the burning of the body as un-environmentally conscious as it releases this substance into the atmosphere.
This is only true in crematoriums that do not have Mercury filters. Many crematoriums are fitted with filters that take out mercury before it hits the air outside, and lots of money has been spent on this research and development. Check with your crematorium to ask about their mercury filtration process.
6. You Can Forgo The Chemicals in Embalming
Embalming is actually only required by law in circumstances where a body has to be transported a long distance. There is also no evidence to suggest that not embalming a body becomes a health and sanitation issue. The need to embalm is to preserve the body for relatives, who will take comfort to see your remains looking as you did in life.
The downside is that embalming uses a lot of harmful chemicals. Your body is preserved using formaldehyde, a carcinogenic substance. Cutting down on formaldehyde use prevents any leakage into the environment at the point it is made and used, ensuring safety for plant and animal life.
7. You Can Save Resources
Buying a heavy, thick wooden casket that has been chemically treated and adorned with metal may look good on a send-off, but once in the ground, it will take a long time to break down, if at all. Luckily, a number of options are available that are much lighter and eco friendly.
Cardboard, wicker, and biodegradable caskets break down much easier and return good nutrients back to the soil and environment. It is also possible to get a burial shroud, a light alternative that wraps around the body.
How To Plan A Green Funeral
Now you know your options, the next part is to plan the funeral. The main decision will come down to if you decide on a burial, flame cremation, or water cremation.
Green Cremation Texas can help you plan your Green Funeral. We would be happy to discuss the needs of yourself and your family, and layout a plan or help with any unexpected funeral needs. Please call us for a quote today using the contact information on our website and put the mind of relatives and friends at ease with our burial plans.