A Greener Funeral

Creating a farewell that is more meaningful for you, those you love, and the planet.

According to National Geographic, “American funerals are responsible each year for felling 30 million board feet of casket wood (some of which comes from tropical hardwoods), 90,000 tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of concrete for burial vaults, and 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid.” An estimated 1 million acres of land are being used for burials. Today, these numbers are even higher.

If green funerals become the norm, these numbers will be drastically reduced. Steel and concrete from caskets and vaults can be removed from the equation. Embalming and formaldehyde, a known carcinogenic that is the main component of most embalming fluids, can also be avoided. Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not known to have any environmental or health benefits and is not required by law. An unembalmed body has not been shown to spread disease when basic, common-sense precautions are taken, according to the Center for Disease Control.

For those who choose cremation, there are also ways to greatly reduce the environmental impact of that process. Crematories can be equipped with filters, reducing or even eliminating the often toxic emissions from the combustion process, and families can choose to cremate a loved one in a clean-burning, sustainable bamboo container that leaves no residue after cremation. They can also opt for a biodegradable urn in lieu of the standard plastic box, or a permanent urn. Biodegradable urns allow for a dignified and memorable service, without adding waste to the environment afterward.

Passages sponsors A Greener Funeral, which was launched on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010. The goal of this organization and accompanying resources is to educate the general public about ways in which they can leave a lighter footprint on this earth by selecting a greener funeral. How green a family ultimately decides to be is entirely up to them.

This website presents numerous alternatives so that educated consumers can connect with local funeral professionals and decide what their loved one would have wanted. The website also lists Passages’ Partner Providers (funeral homes) as well as green cemeteries and cemeteries with green sections. The providers and cemeteries listed are able to meet the product and service needs of those families opting for a greener funeral.

Look for the A Greener Funeral logo at your local funeral home, cemetery, or crematory. Click the link below to learn more about green funerals and greener options.