Green Burials

By: Ian Elliott
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The topic of environmentally friendly and green products have continued to increase, with people becoming more environmentally conscious. With the increase in environmental awareness, there is in increase in understanding the green burial process as a less destructive option on nature. People are moving towards more ecological practices, we are able to minimize the effects on nature while maximizing the natural lifecycle.


What is a Green Burial?

Green burial is a process where the burial or cremation that has a minimal impact on the environment while maximising positive effects on the environment. With the increase in environmentally safe products, there have been products that are now sustainable and non-toxic that can be used during burials. They have also introduced biodegradable caskets, shrouds and urns. Another component of green burials are using rocks and plants for grave markets.

Once the body starts to break down it becomes a natural composite of the earth, it blends into the soil and is recycled back into the natural elements. For green burial, the body is placed into a biodegradable casket which may be made of willow, sea grass, or bamboo. Over the course of time, as the casket naturally breaks down, so does the body. Within green cemeteries, there may also be the option to reuse land plots as the caskets and bodies return to the earth. It may sound strange to think of multiple people reusing the same plot, however that is the process of recycling and reusing that is so vital to the green burial process.


How Green Burials Impact the Funeral

During a traditional embalming, chemicals and fluids like formaldehyde are injected into the body to slow down the breaking down process to enable viewings during the funeral. Formaldehyde is a very toxic and non-ecologically friendly chemical but it does provide the family a greater amount of time and flexibility when to hold the funeral service.

Green embalming fluids contain a minimal amount of chemicals. Most green embalming fluids contain essential oils, iodine or alcohol as the main ingredient used to disinfect or sanitize the body. Although the body breaks down quicker, there are no harmful effects or impacts on the environment. However, this does change the schedule for the funeral because green embalming fluids will only keep the body for about 3 to 5 days. Another thing to consider during green burials is leaving memorabilia in the casket. Leaving tokens of memorial in the casket is a traditional funeral act, however in green burials, you need to remember that they need to be organic or things that will naturally break down over time with the body and casket.

If you have any other questions on green burials, you can contact us at Arbutus Funeral Home.

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