How Green is Your Funeral?

Cost and tradition are two of the most important aspects of planning a funeral for most people in the UK, but more and more of us are approaching end-of-life planning with an eco-friendlier mindset. The prospect of a ‘green’ funeral may suggest bio-degradable caskets and woodland burials. Yet you don’t have to eliminate custom from your funeral service to reduce the carbon impact of your ceremony. When funeral plans are compared from an environmental point of view, we see a huge difference between one set of arrangements and another.

In this blog post, we’ve explored burial cremation funeral plans and compared them to see how green they are, and how the carbon footprint of a proper send-off can be reduced.

Funeral Plans Compared: Cremations or Burials

At face value, cremations are considered more harmful to the environment than burials. Crematoriums consume a lot of natural gas in generating the high temperatures required to cremate a body. The volume of gas necessary to maintain temperatures of up to 800°C for as long as 90 minutes is significant; as are the emissions generated by combustion. One of the current environmental concerns of cremations is the release of toxic mercury into the atmosphere when dental fillings are vaporised. Many crematories in the UK have already attempted to limit this problem by installing filters engineered to remove mercury—gas compounds from emissions.

green funeral

You can try to limit the emissions that your cremation will generate by choosing a casket made from non-toxic materials, and check whether your local crematorium is fitted with eco-friendly emissions filters. Reducing the carbon footprint of cremation funeral plans compared to burials is arguably much harder.

Burials still have a significant eco-footprint that’s difficult to assess. Hundreds of thousands of tons of formaldehyde-based embalming chemicals are buried in our local environments every year. This carcinogen may affect ecosystems and local plant life, but the truth is that we have no accurate idea of how formaldehyde leaching into the environment has affected our natural spaces.

You can limit these effects of this by forgoing embalming. However, please remember that there’s no guarantee this will have a beneficial impact on your local environment. Many campaigners in the UK and worldwide have spoken out against embalming not because it directly impacts local environments but because it is not a legal necessity. It therefore represents an avoidable funeral expense.

Green Funeral Plans Compared

Funeral plans compared in isolation offer a very limited representation of how eco-friendly they are. There are arguments that both cremations and burials are harmful to the environment, and debate is still ongoing as to which one is better from a ‘green’ point of view. Each one has its merits and drawbacks.

We must consider the little details of a funeral plan to really assess its ecological footprint. This may include:

  • Materials used for coffin construction
  • The number of vehicles required for the procession
  • Whether you’re sharing a grave deed with loved ones or are occupying a new plot

Capital Life Funeral Plans: Funeral Plans Compared

At Capital Life Funeral Plans, we understand that planning a funeral is rarely as simple as comparing how two different plans match up on paper. Planning a funeral is a uniquely personal experience that grows from several, sometimes conflicting priorities.

We have established a range of prepaid funeral plans to suit all budgets and requirements. These can be used to organise ceremonies that attempt to mitigate your eco-footprint while maintaining some of the traditions that your family will find familiar during a time of grief. Let us know what matters most to you, and our dedicated advisors will help you build a plan that fits you from a cost, a tradition, and a green point of view.

We can also assist with Wills, Inheritance Planning, Probate, and LPAs.