Green funerals & woodland burials
A green funeral is a burial in a woodland or meadow land site using cardboard or wicker coffins. There are many other aspects that can be considered when planning a funeral to ensure it is as environmentally friendly or green as possible.
Green burial grounds
Woodland and Meadowland burial grounds are intended to benefit the environment by providing valuable natural habitats for wildlife and are managed and maintained without the use of chemicals etc. The funeral will generally include the planting of a memorial tree or wildflowers which will help to further enhance the environment, even urban Cemeteries can include an area that is less intensively managed to benefit the environment and allow a natural habitat to develop.
In order to meet the growing demand for a more natural and organic funeral ceremony, Flintshire County Council established a natural burial site at Kelsterton Cemetery. Here full interments or ashes interments may be carried out in a peaceful woodland setting. The is now operational and we have planted spring bulbs around the trees and through the management of the grassland we are now trying to encourage more wildflowers to re-establish themselves.
A young tree, such as Silver Birch, will be planted and maintained by the Council at the head of each grave plot shortly after the interment takes place. The wood will eventually provide a wildlife habitat giving food and shelter for local wildlife. The tree will prevent the grave being reused and the burial site will remain undisturbed forever as part of the natural woodland.
Choosing the green option
Each aspect of the funeral arrangement can have an impact on how environmentally friendly the funeral will be. Timing, location, floral tributes, the way the Cemetery is managed and the choice of memorial can all impact on the environmental effects of the funeral.
Do I choose burial or cremation?
Various factors will affect the environmental impact of either burial or cremation. Burial is generally considered to be the ‘greener’ option with regard to energy use, ground conditions, excavation etc, but how the Cemetery is managed will also have an effect on its impact.
Floral tributes will nowadays generally include plastic frames, oasis, cellophane or plastic wrapping, tapes and ribbons which will all add to the environmental impact of the funeral.
If these tributes are composted and recycled, it will help to reduce this impact. Oasis can be crumbled and mixed with compost to act as a water retention agent for the compost.
What type of coffin should I choose?
There are a wide range of coffins to choose from these days from the large American style caskets to those made from a local sustainable wood source to wicker or cardboard. Apart from checking the source of the materials used in the construction of the coffin, you should check how far those materials have to be delivered or travel from to construct the coffin as this may affect your decision.
What type of memorial should I choose?
The choice of memorial can also impact on the environment. Many memorials are now imported from such places as India or China, a more friendly option may be to have a locally made wooden cross or a memorial made from local stone or slate.
Timing of the funeral
Usually the deceased will be kept refrigerated before the funeral takes place, therefore the shorter the time between the death and the funeral, less energy will be used.
This information gives you some basic options to consider, but please also see the leaflet ‘Environmental Impact of a Funeral (PDF 226KB new window)’ which gives you options on how to reduce the environmental impact the funeral will have.