Thinking about having a green burial? Heres what you need to know


When it comes to burials, more of a focus is being placed on reducing environmental impact while still having a beautiful send-off for a loved one. This is where green burials come in. With a focus on conserving natural resources, they only use non-toxic materials and have as little effect on the environment as possible. If you are considering a green burial for yourself or a loved one, we have put together a guide with all you need to know.

What is a green burial?

Green burials are designed with the environment in mind and their popularity has grown as the population becomes increasingly eco-conscious. They prevent the large numbers of emissions that traditional burial methods emit from being released as well as stop the need for headstones (which are often shipped from overseas quarries) and the use of chemicals such as formaldehyde in the embalming process.

What is used instead of a traditional casket?

As well as the above, green burials also don’t use traditional caskets. Instead of being made from traditional wood which causes deforestation and can cause significant harm to the environment, biodegradable coffins or caskets are used. This can include the body being buried in a shroud made from hemp or other organic materials or a biodegradable casket made from materials such as wicker or bamboo. For those that opt for a cremation instead of a burial, a biodegradable urn is often chosen. These include the Living Urn's Eco Burial Bamboo Urns as well as those made from other environmentally-friendly materials. 

What is the burial process?

Bodies aren't embalmed which means they don't leak any chemicals into the environment and instead rely on the microorganisms to break down any chemical compounds that remain in the body. Embalming fluid has been found to have a direct impact on the soil, as well as leak into the groundwater, creating a risk that it might contaminate nearby water sources. It has also been found to impact the health and lives of funeral directors and embalmers who are at a higher risk of cancers such as leukemia if they work with embalming fluid.

With a green burial, bodies are buried in a natural burial ground, of which there are currently over 220 in the UK. Since the first natural burial ground opened at Carlisle Cemetery in 1993, they have rapidly grown in popularity and this is only expected to continue. You can find a list of Natural Burial Grounds here.

The spot they are buried won't be marked with a headstone as these are often created using stone imported from overseas and can have a significant impact on the environment. Instead, they will be identified by trees or flowers that are picked out by their loved ones. 

Some choose to opt for tree memorials which is where their ashes are added to a patented tree urn. A plant or flower is planted from this and those that have passed effectively grow into the tree. A tree memorial can create a beautiful spot for loved ones to visit and feel closer to them - there are several memorial forests around the country that you can choose for your burial.

Another option is a water burial which involves scattering ashes in the sea. This is a green burial option as it doesn't require an embalming process and negates the need for a casket and headstone. Instead, you scatter your loved one's ashes in water such as the ocean. Many are opting for biodegradable water urns that encase the ashes, then when you add them to the water, they gracefully release them from the base. The urn itself is made from recycled plant materials and is packaged in an environmentally-friendly bamboo case for secure transportation. Scattering ashes in the sea can be a peaceful and beautiful way to commemorate a loved one without harming the world around you.

Green burials are a way to send off your loved one in a beautiful way without compromising the environment. As the focus on global warming and our environmental impact rises, it’s more important than ever that we consider our carbon footprint both in life and death. To find out more about green burials and the eco-friendly burial urns that The Living Urn offers, check out our website here