There are ways to help the environment even after you pass away. Instead of resting in a casket for all eternity you could give back to the environment in a unique way. Having the traditional burial with a coffin is expensive, the casket is non-biodegradable, and it uses up a lot gas to get the wood, steel, and other necessities. The embalming chemicals to delay decomposition for showings gets released into the soil after the body decays and large amounts of it have been known to cause cancer. It also takes a toll on the environment to keep and maintain the cemetery grounds. Cremations also take a smaller toll on the earth by releasing some mercury into the air and using up a lot of energy. Although, crematoriums have made dramatic reductions in emissions.
One green option is that you could become a coral reef and help the marine environment flourish with life. Eternal Reefs takes the cremated remains of you or your loved one and makes it a process where the entire family can participate every step of the way. It takes about 2 months for the process to complete, but once it’s done you and your family members have the satisfaction of knowing that they part of something bigger than themselves by helping to support the marine ecosystem. They can even put more than one person into their reefs letting family members stay together after death. (they also do pets) Here is a short video you can watch and their FAQs to understand them a little more.
There are Green Cemeteries where the woods are kept in a natural state. The body can go into the earth in either a biodegradable coffin or urn. The family can plant a tree or get an engraved stone for their loved one to know where they are when they go to visit them. No artificial plants are allowed, but real flowers are encouraged to keep everything natural. In this way your loved one is helping to preserve and grow a forest. Make sure to visit the site and speak with the people to get all the information beforehand to see what they do, because they do not accept people who’ve had chemicals (like embalming) put on them at all.
Resomation is an alternative to cremation that has a lower carbon footprint, no airborne mercury emissions, and among others a greener option. Just like cremation, the body is turned into ash and given back to the family in a urn. Unfortunately as of right now it is only regulated in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon. These other states are considering it: New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Instead of being buried or cremated you can donate your body to science. Here is a list of universities you can choose from to donate your whole body to. This would save room, wood, energy, and gas from traditional funerals. It also saves mercury emissions from standard cremations. Although, I can’t guarantee how green it will be once your body has been donated to science.
If you’d still rather have a traditional funeral, but want to make a little difference there are some things you can do. Asking your funeral director what they do to make it greener is good to do first. Use recycled paper to make your programs and lists as well as using recyclable utensils, plates, and cups. This way there will be minimum items to be thrown out. Carpooling is another way to go. This reduces the amount of gas used and the procession line is shorter, so everyone can stay together easily. Another idea that most people don’t think about is having the food come from a local farm. Even flowers can come from a local farm or garden. Here is a blog that gives you a lot more of information on how to green your funeral.