Exploring Green and Eco-Friendly Funeral and End of Life Options

A funeral is a beautiful way to memorialize your deceased loved ones. Matching the service’s presentation and processes to the departed’s values is a unique way to honor their life. Knowing that ecosystem interference and greenhouse gas emissions are fueling end-of-life practices can put a damper on your day of mourning.

Fortunately, the life cycle can continue through eco-friendly funeral methods. By reducing harmful emissions, one can ensure that the deceased is organically transitioning back into the Earth. Many folks looking at end-of-life options would prefer to leave a positive impact on the planet upon their departure rather than causing an environmental obstruction.  

There are various approaches to green funerals one can evaluate when choosing their memorial options. A closed casket, natural burial, biodegradable casket, aquamation and digital services significantly reduce burials’ negative environmental impacts. Incorporating a few of these practices into your departure plan will allow for a beneficial transition into support and nourishment for new life.

Closed Casket

Deceased body preservation is a common practice for open-casket funerals. Annually, 800,000 gallons of toxic fluids conserve the appearance of corpses. These stem from methanol to formaldehyde, which causes adverse effects to human and environmental health.

Morticians have a higher rate of myeloid leukemia compared to other professionals. This finding sparked interest in the carcinogen by researchers. Other than wheezing, bronchitis and chest pain appearing in humans, the toxin also harms biodiversity near decomposing bodies treated with formaldehyde.

Opting for a closed casket service can reduce the use of environmentally degrading toxins. This green memorial alternative will limit the adverse effects to morticians and other funeral home workers. Ensure that your passing process is peaceful and safe for the world around you by keeping the casket closed.

Natural Burial

Over 50% of Americans choose to cremate their bodies after passing. Many opt for this end-of-life process due to inaccurate advertisements. Companies present cremation as a cost-effective and hassle-free decomposition option for bodies.

Cremation poses a high cost for environmental degradation, which most customers do not consider. The incineration of bodies emits greenhouse gases and mercury into the atmosphere. Consequently, these air pollutants cause rising global temperatures and detrimental changes to weather patterns.

An eco-friendly alternative to this form of decomposition is natural burials, which place bodies in the Earth in a shroud or a biodegradable casket. As a result, the bodies naturally degrade and absorb available nutrients for soil and biodiversity support.

Family members may view this burial process as an insensitive form of decomposition, but many opt for natural burials before death. Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and utilizing the body to support Earth’s life is a cyclical way to honor the planet.

When considering a natural burial, talk to your friends and family to explain the process and your preferences. Some 92% of family members believe that having this conversation is essential, but only 32% of people have this conversation. Communication is critical to ensuring your body is honored in alignment with green practices.

Biodegradable Casket

General burial practices and casket production release around 390 pounds of carbon dioxide. These high emission statistics contributed to the development of biodegradable chambers.

Decomposable chests are a superior environmental option above cremation or the use of traditional burial practices. These caskets consist of woven wood, linoleum, cardboard, and other compostable materials. Many manufacturers decadently craft them to ensure an aesthetic appeal by viewers.

Linoleum caskets are an environmentally beneficial burial choice due to their limited impact. They are easily degradable, carbon-negative and offer traditional appearances. This is a useful material to utilize when creating human nutrients’ bioavailability to soil and surrounding plant life.  

Woven chests also degrade efficiently, proving to be an environmentally friendly end-of-life option. They use less wood, decreasing the number of trees used in production. Additionally, woven wood crafts an attractive aesthetic that adds to the beauty of burial services.

Aquamation

An eco-efficient alternative to traditional incineration is aquamation. This process utilizes water and alkali to decompose remains without excessive greenhouse gas emissions. It takes around 28 gallons of gas to cremate a body using traditional practices.

To challenge this greenhouse gas emitting practice, scientists developed the process of decomposing bodies in heated water solutions. The liquid is warmed between 200 and 300 degrees to eliminate flesh, blood, and muscles from the deceased. After six to twelve hours, only bones remain.

Then, one can create ashes by crushing skeletal remains. And all heated remains become part of the solution that can be treated as regular water waste, reducing any further treatment stages. This process utilizes a tenth of the carbon emissions that conventional cremation processes use.              

Digital Funeral

The virtual service era is upon us. Many funeral homes and cemeteries incorporate on-site cameras and streaming devices, so family members and friends can attend from anywhere. This is an effective way to stop the spread of Covid-19, and it reduces the carbon footprint of memorial services.

Over 28% of carbon emissions derive from transportation. With fewer family members living close to each other, many folks drive long distances or fly to reach a funeral. Streaming services online can significantly decrease harmful transportation emissions.

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) now allows all services to broadcast on streaming platforms like Facebook, Zoom, Skype, and more. The license attained by the NFDA protects the family of the deceased and the environment.

Honoring the Life Cycle

You can add to the beauty of your transition after death by incorporating green practices into your funeral. Not only do these alternatives aid in biodiversity, preservation of the atmosphere, and soil health, they also create a symbolic honor of one’s life. Nonetheless, values of support, conservation, and selflessness are all reflected through eco-friendly end-of-life practices.     

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