Most of us dedicate a good portion of our energy and thoughts to the impact we have on the world. It is a common refrain that we want to leave the world a better place than we found it. Our legacy is one we hope will not only change things for the better in our lifetime, but also one we hope will create a lasting positive impact. These are beautiful and noble efforts.
Not as many of us have considered how we may continue to offer a positive impact once our life on this earth has found its completion. However, there are actually a growing number of diverse ways we can sustain a legacy that keeps giving back to Mother Earth and those living on it.
We can do this with the decisions we make about our burials.
A movement around eco-friendly burials is quickly growing. These are burial options that limit the negative impact our bodies and the resources used to bury them have on the environment. Even more, there are methods of burials that can also give back to the environment.
Are you someone who loved the outdoors or could never get enough of expansive and wide-open spaces? Perhaps you or your loved one always had a passion for protecting the planet and you want to sustain a safe and healthy place for future generations to live? Arranging an eco-friendly funeral or burial is an ideal way to continue this legacy of mindfulness and care for the environment.
In this article, we explore some options for eco-friendly burials and offer suggestions on how to create an eco-friendly celebration for yourself or a loved one.
The importance of green burials and conservation burials
There is a large and growing interest to create burials that protect the earth and even give back to it. As of today there are now more than 300 eco-friendly burial providers available in the US alone. This has been a dramatic growth from only a dozen or so approved options in 2008.
For traditional burials that lay the body to rest in the ground rather than transitioning the body to ashes or other forms, there are a few things to avoid for the sake of a greener burial. Commonly green burials will avoid using vaults, traditional coffins, or embalming with toxic chemicals. Alternatives to vaults or caskets for burial can include biodegradable shrouds, blankets, or alternative coffins and urns. There are many natural grounds throughout the US that prohibit harmful chemicals and materials that do not readily biodegrade. There are even cemeteries that offer both traditional gravesites and eco-friendly options.
New trends and opportunities are also providing ways to go beyond merely avoiding ecological harm - seeking to help the environment grow stronger and healthier. These options are sometimes referred to as conservation burials, which follow the principles of green burials while also contributing to the protection, restoration, and management of land for conservation.
This also includes burial options that do not involve placing a body into the ground. With cremation and other like methods, an individual’s ashes can be used to produce new life -growing into a tree memorial that keeps on giving. This has become a popular option nationwide and many people are inspired by all of the beautiful tree and shrub options that are offered with Living Urn tree burials.
Tips for eco-friendly burials
It is best to plan the eco-friendly burial in advance. These types of burials can require more research and preparation, given most of them are still a relatively new option. However, it is still very feasible to plan for an eco-burial in a matter of days upon the passing of a loved one.
Avoid toxic chemicals
If you choose to prepare the body for burial in the ground, it is recommended to request refrigeration rather than embalming for preservation. Embalming uses chemicals that are toxic to the earth - and humans - in the process of decomposing. There is no legal requirement to use this process. Refrigeration is a safe and approved method for replacing the traditional embalming process.
Reduce carbon footprint
There are many other ways that you can also reduce the carbon footprint of your eco-burial. Consider asking attendees to any service you host to carpool with one another to reduce the CO2 impact. Or, take into account local businesses that can provide resources for the service such as flowers or food.
Alternatives to traditional graveyards
Consider using a woodland burial site or a designated forest instead of a traditional graveyard. Many new opportunities with forests and alternatives to cemeteries are available across the US. This includes the Memory Forest movement, which are dedicated areas where families can have Living Urn tree memorials of a loved one planted and cared for.
The vessel you use for burial is also important. Consider using an alternative coffin or urn made from biodegradable materials. Or explore further details on the costs and planning associated with cremation and the resources available. If you are burying ashes, you can explore the many available resources for eco-friendly urns. Also, inquire about the diverse ways of scattering ashes in an eco-friendly way.
The Living Urn is proud and honored to be a resource for you and the environment. We have dedicated many years and much love in providing responsible ways to celebrate life that provide beautiful and meaningful ways of remembering our loved ones.