The Pros and Cons of a Green Burial

Weighing what’s best for Mother Earth with what’s best for your family.

Close up of purple flower blooming in dirt to signify choosing an eco conscious funeral.

A green burial sounds like a wonderful alternative to traditional burial, for those families looking to leave less of a carbon footprint on the environment. In theory, it is. But there are many things that determine what make a ‘natural’ funeral natural, and those must be considered alongside the needs of a grieving family and what the deceased’s wishes might have been. Below are some things to think about when deciding on final arrangements.

Benefits of an eco-funeral

As the names suggest, eco, green, or natural burials all mean the same thing. According to the Green Burial Council, a green burial is “a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat.” More simply said, a green burial is one that lets a body decompose naturally with less impact on the environment.

This means only materials that can quickly be broken down in the soil can be used to enclose the body, such as bamboo or all-wood caskets with no lacquer or metal embellishments, and no embalming chemicals can be used to preserve the body prior to burial. In addition, the concrete vault a casket is placed into in the ground during traditional burials is not present with green burials, as it prolongs the decomposition process.

Green Burials are valuable in many ways:

  • Minimize harmful impact on the environment
  • Offer a meaningful tribute to a conservationist loved one
  • Are an option for any type of funeral or memorial service
  • Still allow families many options for casket styles and personal touches
  • Simple, natural caskets and lack of vault lining are often less expensive than traditional alternatives
  • Forgoing embalming eliminates added cost
  • Is more environmentally friendly than cremation, which uses fossil fuels and emits harmful carbon gases

Other things to consider

Just because eco-friendly burials are better for the environment doesn’t mean they’re not without their drawbacks. Funerals and final wishes are very personal occasions, and some aspects of a green burial may not work in perfect harmony with the wants and needs of the family, or work with the deceased’s final wishes.

It’s also important to understand that many other things about a funeral contribute to its overall environmental impact, not just the way you lay a loved one to rest. Things like emissions from guests driving their cars to and from services or flying in from out of state, printed versus digital funeral announcements, or whether you use silverware or plasticware at the reception are just a few examples of other factors that affect a funeral’s carbon footprint. Other considerations that might not work for you or your family include:

  • Green funerals require the timely burial of the body, unlike cremation or burial with embalming, which allow for more time to plan a memorial service.
  • Some cemeteries do not permit green burials
  • A natural funeral for one person may mean not being buried with other family members
  • Some burial sites do not permit grave markers
  • Burying cremated remains is not considered a green option

A green burial can be a truly meaningful way to honor the life of a loved one at their time of death while also paying respects to this planet that sustains all life. At French Funerals & Cremations, we can help you plan a funeral or memorial service that incorporates your eco-friendly wishes while paying tribute to the life and personality of your loved one. Or, if you want to ensure you are buried in a natural way, our advanced planners can help you create a preplan for your family to follow when the time comes. We’re here if you have any questions about funeral services. Reach out at any time.

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