What is a Green Funeral
There is no one agreed-upon definition for a green funeral or green burial, but generally speaking it means that, usually as part of end-of-life planning, someone chooses options that are less likely to have a negative impact on the environment. It can be as simple as deciding not to be embalmed or picking a biodegradable casket. Or, one could go so far as to have one's body buried with no container at all, or even actively composted into soil.
The first thing to decide is how you would like your remains disposed of after your death. There are several options available, including some overlap depending on your needs.
Green funerals are becoming more popular, according to a recent survey by the National Funeral Directors Association, which found that more than half of respondents are considering these options. Some funeral homes, cemeteries, and burial products are certified by the nonprofit Green Burial Council as meeting certain guidelines. Not all cemeteries offer every eco-friendly option, while others have green burial sections (for example, where vaults and/or linings aren't used), and some are fully green.
With the growing popularity of green burials, many funeral homes are offering alternatives to chemical embalming, whether forgoing formaldehyde or not embalming at all. (Alternative preservation measures such as refrigeration or dry ice may involve extra fees.)
Because cremation uses fossil fuels, some people explore alkaline hydrolysis or aquamation in which water pressure accelerates decomposition. Other considerations include where and how to scatter remains without impacting the natural habitat, or converting cremated remains to other uses.
For those who aren't comfortable with every eco-friendly measure, some simpler ways to consider the environment include: carpooling to the burial site and reception, using recycled paper for funeral program, shopping locally, and using organic flowers.
An eco-friendly funeral and burial is a very personal decision, and resources include the Green Burial Council and The Order of the Good Death, along with individual green-focused services and cemeteries.