In our society, there’s a lot of discussion and attempts to do what is best for the environment. When we think about being ‘green’ we think of conserving water, harnessing the sun for solar power, using eco-friendly vehicles and recycling. But were you aware that you can also have a ‘green’ funeral? Funeral trends are moving towards new eco-friendly ways to celebrate life, while celebrating the environment at the same time. If you, or a loved one, would like to be buried in this way, it seems your choices are expanding!
Simply put, a green burial (also sometimes referred to as a ‘natural’ burial) is a burial that makes environmental sustainability a priority. Read on to learn more about the different and innovative ways one can honor the environment with their choice of final disposition.
In deciding that you’d like a green funeral, there are various ways you can go about in creating one, one where you can feel at peace with being one with Mother Nature.
Traditional 'Green' Funeral
A typical ‘green’ burial is essentially returning your body back to the earth after your death, by means of compostable, biodegradable materials.
According to the Green Burial Council, the organization that oversees green cemeteries in the United States, the key requirement for a green burial is that any container in which the body is buried is environmentally friendly and easy to biodegrade. There are several options for this. The majority of people prefer to bury their loved ones in some sort of container, such a shroud or casket, but there really is no requirement for this. If one desires, they can be placed directly in the ground with no container.
Where a body is buried can also impact the environment. In a true green burial, there will be no headstone. In its place, can be a rock, a plant, a tree. Some cemeteries will have the capability to provide GPS coordinates of the gravestone marker, to make it easier to visit your loved one. As of now, there are 93 certified green cemeteries and memorial woodlands in the United States. Of these 93 cemeteries, there are currently nine in New York. At a green burial site, only natural resources are allowed to be used, they do not have the usual concrete liners and vaults, found at a typical cemetery.
In looking to plan your green funeral, you can rest assured that most green cemeteries avoid using harmful pesticides and fertilizers in the treatment of their lawns, instead choosing more natural solutions.
Is Cremation 'Green'?
When thinking of your disposition in terms of what is beneficial to the environment, cremation definitely comes to mind. There are many ways one can be cremated and dispersed, all while honoring our beautiful environment
An ecological benefit to cremation, is that you can have your cremains scattered in a natural location, such as the sea, or a forest. You can still choose a beautiful urn to be displayed proudly by family, as that will not produce waste. There are even companies that can place ashes in a biodegradable urn which can be buried alongside a tree or flower seeds, really giving merit to ‘life after death'.
What in the World is ‘Recomposing’?
When one thinks of methods of disposition we think of our typical burial, or cremation. However, a new alternative has entered the market, a means of disposition referred to as ‘recomposing.’ Recomposing is the process of turning remains into compost. It is a soil based alternative to burying remains. Washington State was the first to pass a bill legalizing “natural organic reduction” of human remains. As it was introduced in the bill , recomposition was defined as “the contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.” The bill was passed in May of 2019, and the company will be ready to process remains in November of this year (2020).
The Seattle-based company Recompose is at the forefront of this new process. A composted person ends up being a cubic yard of soil, which is a pretty large amount. After the remains have been gently transformed into soil Recompose will divide it among the deceased’s family and friends, letting them take as much as they’d like so if they wish they can grow a tree or garden.
It is important to keep in mind that with these options, you are still able to have a traditional viewing and funeral service to remember your loved ones, if you so choose. If you are thinking about having a green funeral or learning more about other burial options you can always reach out to our professional and knowledgeable staff. You can contact us through our website or call (631) 589-2345 to reach our West Sayville location, or (631) 472-0122 to talk to our Bayport office