Death is always tragic, but holding a ceremony the deceased would have wanted is a cathartic way to honor them and begin working through the loss. Culturally, we attempt to honor our dead by giving them a send-off they would have appreciated, in both form and function. If the deceased lived an environmentally friendly lifestyle, they would have desired a funeral with minimal environmental impact, which is possible to achieve with a handful of approaches.
If they had no preferences, you may intervene to choose the most responsible and respectful way to say goodbye. In this case, too, an environmentally friendly funeral is an ideal farewell, and these are some of the most approachable and affordable ways to do it.
Environmentally Friendly Funeral Strategies
Consider these potential plans and accommodations:
- Choose a biodegradable urn. Cremation isn’t the most energy efficient process, but it’s a respectable and important choice for many families after the death of a loved one. When choosing an urn, you can find a biodegradable option from some producers, such as In the Light Urns. These urns house and protect your loved one’s ashes and are specifically designed to disintegrate harmlessly—usually in water, to scatter your loved one’s ashes at sea.
- Use ash transforming to support life after death. You could also support existing plants and wildlife by using your loved one’s ashes in a transformative environmental process. One popular product is Eternal Reef, which takes your loved one’s remains and converts them into a livable habitat for marine life. It’s a way of combining a burial at sea and scattering ashes that actively supports the biome.
- Consider resomation. Resomation is the common, easier name for alkaline hydrolysis, which is a process similar to cremation that bears substantially less impact on the environment. The process uses water and lye at high temperature and pressure to reduce a body down to its base components rather than conventional cremation, which can produce carbon dioxide and other pollutants as byproducts.
- Choose a biodegradable coffin. Just like you can choose a biodegradable urn, you can choose a biodegradable coffin. The concept here is the same; you’ll use a coffin made from materials that disintegrate seamlessly and harmlessly over time, in the ground rather than in the water.
- Introduce new plant life. As a way to remember your loved one’s memory and introduce new life where past life has gone, you could hand out seeds for trees, flowers, or other plant life at the funeral to your attendees. When they get home, they can plant these seeds wherever they choose and watch over the years as new life springs from that memorable act. Any new plants you introduce to the world are a positive impact.
- Seek alternatives for flowers. According to Scientific American, there’s a significant environmental cost to buying cut flowers. Most of our flowers are grown in bulk in foreign countries, then shipped here, resulting in the emission of substantial amounts of greenhouse gasses. While flowers are a thoughtful and beautiful display to honor a loved one’s passing, you may consider asking your friends and relatives for alternatives to flowers, such as handwritten notes, crafts, food, or other less impactful choices.
- Arrange efficient travel. People come to funerals from all over, and you can’t always keep travel arrangements ideal, but wherever you can, aim to choose more efficient routes. Opt for carpooling to and from the service if possible, and arrange for low-impact forms of travel for people out of state.
Dealing With Loss
Remembering a loved one who has passed is always a bittersweet, nostalgic, and difficult experience, but honoring them the best way you know how will leave you feeling more fulfilled, and give you the closure you need to start moving on.
These strategies are just some of the ways you can make sure their funeral is environmentally friendly, the way they would have wanted. With these options at the base of your funeral plans, you can use your remaining time and resources to tell stories, celebrate life, or grieve in the way you deem most appropriate.