Organising a green funeral

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woodland_burial_site-for-green-funeralFor today’s carbon fast, we’re taking a look at green funerals.

The suggestion readers “Though it may be challenging to contemplate, think about greening your “final arrangements.””

Natural funeral

A green funeral is something I think about from time to time. I’ve been contemplating how, as someone who advocates living lightly on the earth, it would seem pretty hypocritical to chop down an oak tree or use rare tropical hard woods to bury me in, embalm me in formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals and then set fire to me or have a great slab of precious rock with my name engraved in it. I’d probably consume more carbon footprint during my funeral than my last year of life!

Sky burial

In addition, I really don’t want my daughter having to spend a small fortune on giving me a good send off. The average funeral in the UK costs £2000 and to be honest, I think Little Miss Green might have a better way to spend her money!

If it was legal I’d like a sky burial; this seems to be the most fitting way to end my days – I’d like to be left out in a field next to my home, down by the stream, for animals and nature to take from me what they need. It would be a fantastic way to ‘give back’ to Mother Nature for all she has provided for me.

Willow coffin

As that is not legal I guess the next best thing is to be thrown in a hole (in a cardboard or willow coffin if you must; but something thin enough to rot down quickly) and then plant a tree or vegetable garden over me. Again I can give back to the earth and continue the cycle of life.

Woodland burial

Again, I’m not sure about the law of burying someone on your own land; I think you have to be buried in a designated place. So that leaves a woodland burial in a green burial grounds. The environment of green burial grounds are kept as wild and as natural as possible. Memorials and headstones are generally not permitted, but often memorial trees can be planted to mark the grave.

Green funeral

I once saw a film where the tradition was to send the dead out to sea in a boat. When the boat was a good distance away, the family shot blazing arrows at the boat and it all caught fire. It seems a waste to burn all that good flesh, but it was moving and beautiful…

What about you? Do you have thoughts about a green funeral?


  1. Brenda Pike on March 21, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    After my dad died I looked into green burials. It might seem vague now, but it can get pretty complicated. For instance, there aren’t many places that actually do woodland burials, and I don’t think you’re allowed to be transported across state lines without formaldehyde. You might want to look into it in a little more detail.

  2. Mrs Green on March 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    @Brenda Pike: Thanks Brenda; we’re in the UK so have different laws, but this post illustrated to me how much we need to check things out so we can have our wishes known.

  3. Tracey on June 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I have the below as a specific clause in my will:

    I EXPRESS the wish that my body, or any part thereof, may be used for organ transplantation or for the purpose of medical education or research (not including the use of ova for embryo research), in accordance with the Anatomy Act 1984 and Human Issue Act 2004 and subject thereto, I direct that my body should be disposed of in as cheap and eco-friendly manner as possible, taking into account my following wishes:
    a. Using a biodegradable coffin (eg. recycled cardboard, wicker, bamboo or FSC certified wood)
    b. To have a woodland burial
    c. Not to use any embalming fluid
    d. If a headstone or marker is requested by family, or required by the burial site, this is to be sourced from local materials.
    e. No cut flowers, though a living plant could be positioned above the burial position and/or a donation could be made to Cats Protection League via the aforementioned address.

    I have an ISA that is specifically set up to ensure there is enough cash to cover the cost of it. I believe the co-op funeral providers have an option for a green funeral – something I’m going to look into to see if there’s a pre-pay option. I may only be 30, but there’s no guarantees!

  4. Mrs Green on June 12, 2011 at 8:08 am

    @Tracey: Hi Tracey; thanks for sharing such a personal thing with us; you’ve covered some great points and well done you for addressing this; most people dont’ because they don’t like to talk or think about it

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