Green/Environmentally friendly Funerals

The essence of a green funeral is simplicity. At its purest a green funeral:

  • Rejects cremation.
  • Opts for burial in a site serving a conservation purpose.
  • Creates an environment which is not visually definable as a burial ground (Graveyard or Cemetery).
  • Rejects embalming.
  • Requires a coffin or shroud locally made from natural, sustainable materials.
  • Forbids demarcation of the grave. Also tending or gardening of the grave.
  • Forbids marking or personalising of the grave with any sort of permanent memorial.

where green/eco choices can be made

  1. Coffins. The standard in Ireland is for your funeral directors to supply the coffin as a part of their service. The point we would make here is to choose a coffin:
    • Where you ideally know the source of the wood, manufacturing & assembly. Very few if any have all 3 from Ireland.
    • That is made of natural material.
    • That the crem film (for keeping fluids in the coffin) are made from degradable plastics. These have a special additive that causes the plastic to start crumbling three months or so after manufacture.
  2. There is no longer a legal requirement to use a coffin for burial, so you can choose to use a shroud for the person who died instead, which would be more normal in faith’s such as the Muslim faith. Note that some  cemeteries/graveyards may require the use of a coffin.
  3. Embalming. One side of this argument would call the process ‘hygienic treatment’ and the Green side would say it is an invasive, toxic procedure. It is only a legal requirement in situations where the body is being flown out of the country, so we would suggest you research this area, but also consider how important (and potential upsetting) it can be to have someone look ‘full of life’ and possibly that they were taken ‘ahead of their time’ when they are dead in flat denial of what has happened to them.
    • Green alternatives to embalming if required would involve the use of Cool blocks, Dry ice or cool blankets which are used by a relatively small number of funeral directors in place of a fridge or freezer. These all work on the basis of cooling the body to slow.
    • Other embalming fluids that have come onto the market that might use the likes of methanal rather than formaldehyde.
  4. Vehicles.
    • Normally a specific 1st removal vehicle/hearsette is used to collect the body and bring it to the funeral director’s premises.
    • Electric hearses and especially hybrids are starting to become an option.
  5. Flowers. Why not pick hand held season bunches from the garden of the deceased. Rather than the conventional arrangements that can produce a lot of non-compostable waste and be extraordinarily expensive.
  6. Memorial. If you choose a natural/woodland burial site as per. See link – ‘Find a Graveyard’.

There is no organization in Ireland who promotes/educates around the area of Green/ECO funerals. We would be happy to take on this role whilst acknowledging that people have choices to make at a difficult time, so in the same way there is no perfect life there will also be no perfect death or funeral. So you or your loves ones should not put yourselves under added pressure.

UK sites that can help in your choices:

The Good Funeral Guide
The Good Funeral Guide is the UK’s ONLY not-for-profit independent information resource for funeral advice. They exist…
The Natural Death Society
The Natural Death Society has been set up by the NDC to bring together people…
Association of Green Funeral Directors
The Association of Green Funeral Directors (AGFD) helps members of the public find funeral homes…