Help & Advice

Arranging a Funeral

“Eco Friendly” Funerals FAQs

There is no standard industry definition of a “green” or “eco” funeral. All funerals will have an environmental impact to some extent, based on all the choices which have been made for the service.

As we consider our environmental impact and carbon footprint more and more, funeral services are adapting and funerals which take into consideration environmental factors are growing in popularity. Our funeral services reflect this change and you may be able to tailor your funeral in order to reflect more sustainable choices. We can help with every part of the day – from arranging a woodland burial to finding a biodegradable funeral casket or coffin.

The concept of a “green” burial remains undefined and still unfamiliar. So we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions to give you a better idea of why it may be suitable, and what’s possible.

What is a “green” or woodland burial?

An alternative to a traditional funeral or cremation, a woodland burial is sometimes referred to as a natural or “green” burial. The burial site is usually located in a rural location like a dedicated woodland area, forest or meadow, and offers a scenic final resting place for your loved one.

Unlike traditional burials, a woodland burial may have a reduced environmental impact in terms of energy usage (as opposed to cremation).

Where typical burials utilise a number of materials, such as wood, metal and allow for embalming of the deceased, woodland burials may involve a simple biodegradable coffin or shroud, as well as preventing embalming from taking place, given the chemicals used in the embalming process.

Why choose a woodland burial?

Woodland burials may appeal to many types of people, because they’re peaceful, and may enable more personalisation from an environmental perspective than “traditional” funerals. It may feel especially appropriate for those who were environmentally conscious before they died, or for those who were close to nature.

A woodland burial isn’t only chosen for these reasons – they can also be beautiful settings. For friends and family, laying a loved one to rest in burial grounds amongst nature – surrounded by trees, flowers and wildlife – is appealing.

If you are considering a “green” burial, we can help find the perfect natural burial ground for you.

What is considered a “green” burial or eco funeral?

There is no standard industry definition of a “green” or “eco” funeral. All funerals will have an environmental impact to some extent, based on all the choices which have been made for the service.

Depending upon your particular preference or environmental concern, there may be different choices you can make to personalise your funeral in order to take account of environmental factors. For example:

  • Coffin Choice. You may choose a coffin which is biodegradable, or made from sources which could be deemed to be more sustainable
  • Burial or cremation – individual woodlands burial sites will have different environmental credentials, cremation involves a considerable use of energy
  • No permanent headstone or memorial. This means the burial site is able to merge with the natural landscape. Although tree planting may be permitted.
  • The deceased may not be embalmed. Preserving the body in “traditional” funerals requires the use of chemicals, which can be harmful to the environment if left in the ground. For this reason, embalming may not be permitted or chosen.
  • Minimal vehicles for funeral attendees. A simple way to reduce a funeral’s impact on the environment is to limit cars. Carpooling is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint.

What is an eco-coffin?

There is no standard industry definition of a “green” or “eco” coffin. The production of any coffin will have an environmental impact to some extent, based on all the choices which have been made for the service.

However, you may wish to make certain choices about the coffin in order to minimise environmental impact. For example, you may choose a biodegradable coffin. Or you may choose a coffin which has certain accreditations, such as Forest Stewardship Council certification.

Is it possible to have a headstone at a “green” burial?

It’s typically not possible to use permanent markers like headstones in most “green” burial sites. This is because they don’t blend with the natural environment. But there are ways to mark the final resting place of a loved one. These may include:

  • Memorial post. A simple wooden post, inscribed with a message of your choice
  • Living memorials. Planting a tree or a plant that represents their life and legacy
  • Obelisk. A beautiful monument made of wood
  • Memorial plaque. Wooden with a personalised inscription

Some choose not to mark the resting place of their loved one, instead choosing to think of the entire site as a memorial. There are also natural burial grounds which provide maps for the bereaved to locate the burial site of their loved one.

What happens at a woodland burial?

Woodland burials may be more flexible than traditional funerals. There is no requirement for hymns or religious readings, unless you wish, and there is no set agenda to follow. You may have more freedom to direct the ceremony according to your friend or family member’s wishes.

A few ideas for the ceremony:

  • Memory walk. Meander peacefully through the woodland, before finishing the walk at your loved one’s burial site
  • A simple service. Askfriends and family to recite poems, read meaningful book extracts or recall happy memories of the deceased
  • A traditional indoor service. At some burial sites, there’s a building or centre where you can hold a more traditional service
  • Outdoor wake. It’s possible at some sites to use special outdoor areas like yurts, large tents or gazebos for a wake

Woodland burials are appealing because they are flexible, enabling you to create a memorable ceremony that’s meaningful and potentially more environmentally considerate.

How much does a green burial cost?

As you might expect, green burial costs vary depending on the site itself and the location. A green burial plot can start at a few hundred pounds and go up to several thousand pounds. But consider that this is usually a one-off purchase, and the site requires minimal upkeep.

Additional costs to consider:

  • The coffin. A ‘Simple Cardboard Coffin’ starts from as little as £400
  • Gravedigging / interment fee. On average, this costs between £300-£500, but is dependent on the burial ground
  • A memorial tree. A beautiful way to mark your loved one’s final resting place. Prices vary with the type of tree, but expect to pay upwards of £300
  • A funeral celebrant. Someone who officiates the service. This could be a member of the clergy, civil celebrant, family member, or friend
  • Venue hire. (If applicable)

For detailed costs and more information about green funerals and woodland burials in your area, get in touch  with your Funeral Arranger here at A Yeatman & Sons Funeral Directors .

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