How to Organise a Funeral for an Environmentalist

Environmentally-conscious individuals often have rather contrasting views on burials and funerals, including opting not to be buried at all but rather be cremated so as to take up less precious earth or to have their ashes scattered into the sea or wind.

Whatever an environmentalist’s wishes are regarding burials, cremations and funerals, those they leave behind are naturally encouraged to respect their wishes even if it goes against family tradition, for instance being laid to rest in a family burial plot.


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Natural burials
These are increasingly popular amongst environmentally-conscious individuals though at the present point in time they’re not possible in all Western countries.

Natural burials are popular amongst environmentalists because few alterations are made to the environment – there are usually no gravestones for example – and the body of the departed is usually, though not always, interned in soil without a coffin – this further reduces the pressure placed on the environment – and chemical preservatives like embalming fluid, thus allowing it recycle naturally.

Graves dug for natural burials are generally shallower than the six feet we have come to associate with traditional burials so as to allow for the microbial activity required in the composting process.
Natural burials need to be pre-approved if they’re to take place on private land – they’re also usually subject to government regulations – and there are an increasing number of cemeteries that accommodate what is known as ‘the vault-free technique’, which is essentially the internment of a body in soil, i.e. without a coffin.

However, it’s possible to have a natural burial using a biodegradable coffin and some environmentally-conscious individuals have specified that they wish to be buried in a shroud.


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Open air pyres
Many environmentalists have expressed an interest in being cremated on an open air pyre though there are currently too many obstacles standing in the way of making this a reality.

At the present point in time open air pyres are illegal in the UK due to, amongst other reasons, the mercury emissions released into the air when teeth containing amalgam fillings are burnt as part of the cremation process.

Therefore, if an environmentalist friend or family member has specified an open air pyre as their preferred cremation method you’ll have to look at alternatives.

That, however, isn’t to say that you couldn’t arrange a symbolic open air funeral pyre, since this might be a thoughtful way for family and friends to say goodbye in a manner that’s somewhat in line with the individual’s wishes.

Additionally, if you’d like to see open air pyres legalized in the UK so that other people can be cremated in the same manner as your family member or friend had wished, you can join the petition to legalize them.

Funeral arrangements for an environmentally-conscious family member or friend
When making funeral arrangements for an environmentally-conscious family member or friend, you must bear in mind that the funeral is just as much about the departed as it is those they’ve left behind.

Working with a funeral director is an option that many people opt for because it makes the process of organising a funeral much easier during a time when they’re understandably distraught, though it’s possible to make all the arrangements yourself and indeed some people find this to be preferable because it keeps them occupied.

If the departed has left explicit instructions for their funeral you’ll have a good idea of the arrangements that you need to make, though if they haven’t it’s advisable to confer with family and close friends to decide upon the arrangements that should be made and discuss the costs involved.

With regard to the cost of a funeral and memorial service, here are a few that are likely to be applicable.

1. Fees charged by a local authority for the burial or cremation
2. Fees charged by the funeral director
3. Cemetery or crematorium fees
4. Newspaper announcements, etc.

If the departed was an environmentalist there’s a good chance they’d like to be laid to rest in a natural, perhaps forested, environment or to have their ashes scattered where they can return to the earth, though if they haven’t expressed specific wishes this is naturally something to discuss with family and close friends.