A guide to green funeral options

A guide to green funeral options


What can you tell me about green burial options? I would like to pre-plan my funeral and make it as natural and eco-friendly as possible.

Green funeral options are becoming increasingly popular in the United States as more and more people are looking for environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional funerals. Here is what you should know about "green burial" and "green cremation" options, along with some tips to help you locate services in your area.

Green Burial If you wish to be buried, you can minimize the environmental impact by forgoing the embalming chemicals (which are not typically required by law). You can opt to be buried in a biodegradable container or shroud without a vault, instead of a traditional casket or concrete vault. This approach allows the body to decompose more naturally. If you want to temporarily preserve the body for viewing or a memorial service without the use of traditional embalming chemicals, you can request the use of dry ice, a refrigeration unit or a non-toxic embalming agent.

You will also be happy to know that green burials may be more affordable than traditional funerals, which average around $8,000 in 2023. By forgoing the coffin, vault and embalming, you may significantly cut down on funeral costs.

A good first step is to find a certified green funeral home in your area and contact them. If there is no certified home nearby, you should contact traditional funeral homes to see if they offer green service options. Many funeral homes offer a range of services, from traditional to green burials, to meet the needs of all their customers.

You will also need to find a green cemetery. There are nearly 100 green cemeteries throughout the United States, and more than 300 traditional (hybrid) cemeteries that offer green burials. Search online for environmentally friendly cemeteries. If you own rural property, you may be able to have a home burial if your state and county allow it.

Green Cremation Eco-friendly options exist for cremation as well. While cremation has always been promoted as being more eco-friendly than a typical burial, traditional cremation uses high heat to incinerate the body and emits greenhouse gases into the air.

A green cremation, however, uses water and potassium hydroxide to reduce a deceased body to its basic element within a few hours. This green technique, which is known as aquamation, may be more expensive than traditional cremation and can be an option in some states. Contact your local funeral providers to find out if this is available in your area, or do an online search for "aquamation" followed by your city and state.

Another green consideration is deciding what to do with the remains. Instead of scattering, which can be harmful to the environment, there are a wide variety of biodegradable urns that dissolve into the earth or water over time. There are also memorial urns that will grow a plant or tree in combination with ashes.

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