"Green" Funerals – The Resistance
to Traditional Funerals
Green funerals cost less money
and are friendlier to the environment. Many people today have commented
that they are unhappy with the way in which the funeral industry has convinced
people that the so called traditional or modern day funeral is the only
proper way to deal with a death. You know the kind of funeral service
they mean, usually involves purchasing an expensive casket, buying a grave
plot, having several large vehicles taxi the relatives to and from the
cemetery and most importantly, will cost you and your family thousands
of dollars. Does spending a fortune on a funeral service really honor
the deceased? Is it really dignified to pay as much for a funeral
casket as you could pay for a new car? Is chemical embalming a dead
body in anyway natural or dignified?
The ‘Natural’ Alternative
Although there are many different
types of burials and burial sites, green funerals and green burial sites
tend to look more like nature parks or conservation reserves. Metal
caskets and embalming are not permitted and the preference is for natural,
biodegradable burial containers. A simple wooden casket, linen shroud,
a woolen casket or organic cardboard caskets are used.
Some green burial sites plant
trees as opposed to using grave markers and headstones making the whole
process a much more natural form of burial. Today’s modern cemeteries
can hardly be described as natural resting places when they are burying
metal caskets, with bodies full of embalming fluids that over time will
contaminate all the surrounding areas with know carcinogenic toxic chemicals.
According to “The Green Burial Council” enough metal is buried in the US
to build a whole new Golden Gates bridge every year not to mention the
amount of concrete being used to house these metal caskets. Even
cremation is viewed today as a much more eco-friendly method than a standard
burial even though cremations require huge amounts of natural gas and electricity.
Is a green or natural burial
cheaper than a traditional burial?
Without a doubt you can save
thousands of dollars by opting for a green burial. With regards to
the overall costs, a traditional burial service including elaborate caskets
with all the trimmings can top $10,000 in comparison, a green funeral can
cost under $2000.
Funerals: Is Green the new Black?
The generation of ‘Baby-Boomers’,
who are likely to generate an influx in the death rate in the next decade,
are exhibiting greater interest in ‘naturalization’ and are far more likely
to consider a ‘green’ funeral. Recent research and statistics on
funerals indicates that a growing trend in alternative funerals is a lean
towards more environmentally friendly or ‘natural’ funerals. A Green
funeral is one in which no chemicals are used for preservation, and natural
wood is used for a casket as opposed to steel. Wooden caskets are
placed direct into the earth instead of using concrete crypts and vaults.
It is considered a more natural decaying process. In some ways it
is but a return to the natural way that burial occurred in North America
A Natural Burial Performed by
Some people are taking the whole
‘natural’ funeral theme a step further and choosing to have a memorial
service and wake at home, rather than opting for the traditional funeral
memorial service. These DIY funerals are often so simple that a plain
wooden casket is made by someone in the family, the deceased is washed
and dressed and placed in the casket, and then a memorial tribute is conducted.
Family and friends attending the wake write messages on the casket and
place flowers on top. The casket is then transported to a designated
‘green’ cemetery for burial, or to a crematorium.
The more ecologically-friendly
Opting to be cremated is also
on the increase, and this again reflects these changing cultural trends
in the death industry. Many families are choosing a simple cremation, and
then scattering the ashes, as a more organic return to nature. Although
this trend in naturalization is likely influenced by cultural environment
agendas, cost is most likely the primary factor. For many decades
now the Funeral Industry has profiteered from the traditional extravagant
burial as the preferred and befitting option for a ‘dignified’ end-of-life
choice. Now society is resisting this as the ‘norm’ and the
Funeral Industry is re-shaping itself to cater to this trend.
Cemetery Space in the 21st Century
Many funeral corporations and
businesses are having to rethink their cemeteries. With the sale
of traditional burial vaults on the decline, cemeteries are now creating
memorial gardens with landscaped waterfalls, and reflective tranquil areas
where ashes can be scattered or interred, and memorial benches can be erected.
We are even seeing themed cemeteries emerge, such as the Golf Park in Washington.
New businesses are emerging
as the death industry reshapes itself. The commodification of the
death industry has resulted in a proliferation of memorial businesses,
all using the Internet to promote their services. You can now have
a loved one’s ashes converted into a carbon diamond, blasted into space,
scattered at sea, or planted with a memorial tree. Caskets, urns,
and grave markers can all now be purchased online, frequently with savings
compared to the prices funeral homes may charge.
The notion of opting for
a green funeral may be an environmental, cost or nostalgic choice.
Whatever the reason, it is likely that we will see more and more green
funerals being conducted.
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Green Burial Council
Last revised: 11/24/2012