As people become more environmentally aware, and funeral options expand, it makes sense that people are asking more questions about sustainable funerals. 

recent American study found that awareness of sustainable funerals has remained steady at around 34 per cent over the past five years, but interest in them has grown significantly (up from 43% to 64% in those 40+).

An eco-friendly sendoff doesn’t have to be extreme or offensive to the more traditionally-minded members of your family. There are plenty of measures you can take to make your funeral greener. Here are a few ideas on how to plan an eco-death. 

What Is a Green Funeral? 

The idea behind a sustainable funeral is to minimise the effects your death has on the environment. You could have some or all of the following elements: 

  • Choose a biodegradable coffin, urn or shroud (wicker, cardboard, seagrass, banana leaf, bamboo, water hyacinth, cotton, linen and wool to name a few)
  • Select a coffin made from sustainably sourced wood instead of mahogany
  • Minimising chemicals when preparing the body for burial
  • Dress the body in biodegradable clothing
  • Use green vehicles
  • Ask attendees to donate to local environmental charities in lieu of flowers
  • Leave an environmental legacy in your will
  • Choose a natural burial ground
  • Opt for a natural marker such as a tree or a location on a map
  • Let your loved ones know to choose organic food and/or flowers. Keep printing to a minimum and use recycled paper

Why Choose a Sustainable Funeral?

Having a sustainable funeral is a personal choice that many people make because it is a continuation of the way they lived their lives. 

There are also growing concerns about the lack of cemetery space in our major cities with a 2017 government report finding cemetery capacity in metropolitan Sydney will be exhausted by 2051 (source). Natural burial sites do not incur the same setup costs (roads, buildings, lawns) as conventional burial sites or require ongoing maintenance (watering and mowing). They are often promoted as the most sustainable way forward for burials in Australia.  

Sustainable funerals are not for everyone, and many people still prefer a traditional burial or a religious funeral service. The choice is always yours.