Skip to content
Back Back to Insurance menu Go to Insurance
Back Back to Saga Money Go to Saga Money
Back Back to Saga Magazine menu Go to Magazine
Back Back to benefits Go to benefits
Search Magazine

Green funerals

02 October 2015

Even after you’ve died, you can still do your green bit for the planet. Here are five ways in which your final resting place can make a positive ecological impact.

A green funeral is kind to the planet.
A green funeral is kind to the planet.

Consider the eco-implications of cremation

To add to the environmental burden a cremation uses 285kWz of gas and 15kWz of electricity – an individual’s average monthly fuel usage in the UK. And that’s not to mention the fact that cremated baby boomers’ filling-filled teeth contribute to 16% of the UK’s mercury pollution.

Then there’s the scattering, or strewing of the ashes. You need to give thought to the environmental damage that can do, too. 

And while you may think, ’Well, I’ll be cremated but in an eco-friendly coffin’. The irony there is that wicker or cardboard coffin burns more quickly than wood, which builds up a slow, even heat. More fuel is then needed to burn the body, with the resultant increase in CO2 emissions.  

Coffin cover

It may be that some mourners may be upset by a back-to-basics funeral, particularly where the coffin in concerned. They will be used to (and expecting) the traditional hardwood coffin with handles. 

The ingenious Coffin Cover provides the answer. It’s an oak sleeve, into which the deceased, in the cardboard or similar coffin in which they will be cremated or interred, is placed. 

Once the service is over, the veneered sleeve is removed and the cremation/burial proceeds with the eco-friendly coffin. The constant re-use of the Coffin Cover also saves further trees from being cut down to provide the material new coffins.

At no time does the re-useable Coffin Cover come into contact with the deceased. It’s a smart cosmetic device which adds traditional dignity to the proceedings for those mourners who need such comfort.

A longer-lasting floral tribute

Instead of sending traditional floral bouquets to the bereaved, or contributing to a wreath on the day of the funeral, consider planting a shrub or tree in the deceased’s memory. While a lower-priced sheaf will set you back around £40, you could buy and plant a tree or shrub for the same price or less.

Why not a tree bearing the deceased’s favourite fruit, for example? And, if you do want to send or bring flowers, how about some from your own garden, with your own arrangement? It’s a lovely personal touch if the season is right. And there’s be no unsightly cellophane, oases and wire that are destined for the skip and landfill.

Keep the carbon footprint down on the day

If guests are coming to the funeral from some distance away – or even if they’re from your neighbourhood – put email/phone contacts in the invitations so that mourners can share a ride together, or even share a party ticket by rail. Not only is it both energy and cost-efficient but guests who’ve never met can break the ice and share stories about the deceased before the ceremony itself.

Consider a woodland funeral

Britain’s cemetery space is under pressure as never before. Being interred in one of the country’s 270-odd natural burial sites – from woodlands to flower meadows – could be the answer. 

Buried at a shallower depth (2ft) than the usual local authority plot of 4ft 6in means none of the methane gas being released as part of a body decomposing when buried at a greater depth. And, buried in a shroud or biodegradable coffin you’ll be contributing natural nutrients to the land.

Find out more about woodland burials

Subscribe to the print edition or download the digital edition for more useful articles delivered direct to you every month. 

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.