How to Plan for a Green Funeral
You may not want to think about your death and funeral, but you can choose an environmentally friendly alternative that's kinder to the planet for almost every aspect of your end-of-life wishes. If you want a green funeral, you must do your research, make your plans, draw up a list of dos and don'ts, and talk to your nearest and dearest about your wishes. Write all the details down, and keep them with your will.
Your family needs to know whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated. There are green arguments against both these options. Conventional burials in cemeteries carry a problem of space and the proper disposal of potentially harmful embalming fluids. For cremation, there's the issue of gases released into the atmosphere. Whether you're buried or cremated is one decision that's intensely personal, so do your research and choose the option that's right for you.
If you prefer burial and a wood casket, choose one that's made from wood certified to come from a sustainable forest — that is, one where trees are replaced as they're cut down. (You can get more information on sustainable forests from the Forest Stewardship Council.) Alternatives to wood caskets are wicker or cardboard caskets, which are biodegradable. Some suppliers offer a cardboard casket inside a wooden shell, and the shell goes back to the undertaker when the funeral is over.
Green or natural burial sites are becoming more common. These nature-based sites don't usually allow the use of embalming fluids and require biodegradable coffins. Also, there aren't any headstones in green burial sites; most graves have trees planted on them, so you have a doubly green send-off.
Visit the Centre for Natural Burial for information about green cemeteries in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Another option is having yours or your loved one's cremated remains mixed in a cast-concrete reef that's lowered onto the seabed off the coast of Florida, where it can serve as a shelter for marine life for hundreds of years. Eternal Reefs offers this service.