In the UK today, 77% of deaths are followed by Cremation. As well as being a cost-effective method of committal compared to burial, it’s popularity is also due to how flexible you can be in terms of memorialisation after the fact, and – among Britons in the 60’s – became hugely popular after The Pope lifted the ban on cremations for Roman Catholics.
However, environmentally, cremation is a disaster. Each cremation releases 400kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, along with a host of other fumes (caused by prosthetics, common coffin materials, and the treasures left in with the deceased at point of cremation).
As for traditional burials – that are arguably harmless on a the emissions front – cause environmental issues themselves. Embalming fluids have been known to leak into groundwater from those who have been embalmed before burial. Burial space is limited, particularly in urban areas, causing overcrowding.
The premise of Eco-Funerals is to mitigate the environmental impact of the committal of a body after death. Right away, this usually involves a Burial (however, there are alternatives as we’ll explore below…).
Eco-Funerals are gaining popularity as society at large becomes more aware of its impact on the environment. We want to lead lives that are environmentally conscious, making little changes to improve our relationship with the environment. It affects our choice of transportation (Electric car, over petrol. Bus, over car. Walk, over bus!), food and drink (people who identify as vegan has quadrupled between 2014 and 2019), and even the clothes we wear (sustainable fashion brands have grown – while still only a small share of the market, its’ revenue has doubled since 2014).
Our funerals should be a reflection of our lives. Indeed, in 2017, one in seven funerals in the UK were eco/woodland funerals.
Not only is the committal itself a source of consideration when it comes to eco-funerals, transportation is worth thinking about. Does your funeral director offer a horse-drawn hearse, or motor hearses run on electricity? Is the funeral directors’ premises run on sustainable sources of energy?
To meet the rising demand for eco-funerals, private land has been converted into meadows and fields suitable for burial,and woodland landscaping (either privately owned by companies or funeral directors themselves). We now have over 360 of them in the UK!
Natural burial grounds as above tend to have strict rules about memorialisation and materials used than municipal cemeteries. For example, most will only permit simple wooden grave markers, instead of large headstones.
Often, only coffins made from natural, easily degradable materials will be permitted (such as wicker/willow, bamboo, cardboard), although some families opt not to have a coffin at all (the deceased is instead wrapped in a shroud; note that a coffin is not always necessary for a traditional funeral, either!)
In municipal cemeteries, graves are dug using heavy machinery. In natural/woodland burial ground, graves are dug by hand.
Embalming is also discouraged.
After the research/training has been carried out, the remains are often cremated, or allowed to be returned to the family.
Students will often hold a memorial service for those they have been working with at the end of the school year to commemorate those who have kindly made their donation.
In the future, have a look out for…:
FuneralExperts.com helps you to compare funeral directors based on:
We do not endorse or make recommendations about individual funeral directors, but we do offer you the tools to make those decisions yourself.
We’ll guide you through the very first steps of any funeral arrangement, outlining the decisions you’ll have and the different options for each. We’ll help by:
Our aim is to pair as many families as possible to the best funeral director for their individual needs.
As much as we’re a funeral price comparison service, we also aim to educate the public on the funeral industry as a whole. When the time inevitably comes that the funeral industry is needed, our clients are well-equipped with the language and understanding they need to give their loved one the best funeral possible.