It is estimated that in 2017, more than half of all people chose cremation for their funeral planning. This trend is part of a growing movement of environmentally-conscious and economical people who want to include their philosophy in their estate planning needs.
Did someone in your family recently pass away and ask for a “green” funeral? It can be difficult to know where to start, but there are options available to you.
What are their expressed wishes?
One of the best ways to know what your loved one wanted is by their written word, such as a valid will or another notarized document. It is also important to keep your personal limits in mind.
If your loved one had a will, it likely included a list of preferences or pre-paid packages, such as a preferred funeral home, burial plot, chosen scattering grounds or casket or urn supplier. If your loved one died without a will, but you know that they would appreciate an environmentally-friendly legacy, you can be instrumental in making that happen.
Keep in mind that their wishes, however, may not be attainable. Stores may no longer be in business, shipping specific products may take too long or the land where they want their ashes scattered may not be accessible.
Suppose their will asks for you to wash and dress their body for a home funeral before a natural burial (without the use of embalming fluid) in a Colorado cemetery certified by the Green Burial Council. What if you are not comfortable with preparing the body? You could always find a death doula or other person who can carry out their wishes with respect and dignity.
What makes a funeral “green”?
While everyone has their own definition and limit to environmental friendliness, the Green Burial Council sets forth a few standards for “green” methods of dealing with our dead.
- Accommodates alternatives to traditional embalming: This includes clear pricing for cremation, aquamation, natural burial, garden burial or sea burial.
- Uses biodegradable burial containers: Including natural burial clothes, urns and burial or cremation caskets
- Preserves the natural burial ground: Natural cemeteries are treated as hallowed ground and are well maintained for years to come.
Other than a burial, a green funeral goes the extra mile to prevent negatively impacting the environment. This can be as easy as planning services during the day, carpooling, using native flowers, printing programs on recycled paper, catering local dishes using sustainably grown food, using reusable dishes and other sustainable practices. It can also mean donating or recycling their possessions or making a charitable donation to a nature preserve in their name.
A person’s funeral plans can be as unique as they wish. If you want to support their legacy but are not sure where to start, ask your locally certified funeral home for ideas and resources about how to carry out their final wishes.