Church Of England Considers Approving Green Funerals

For many people, how they live in a world beset by environmental concerns is a big issue. But this may also be reflected in death, specifically by the style of funeral they have.

Unless one is buried at sea, most are either entombed underground or cremated, but new methods have developed that may be more environmentally friendly, such as human composting and water cremation. 

These are not currently available in the UK, but that could soon change. According to the Independent, the Church of England is considering approving these methods for religious ceremonies in the UK. 

Such methods have already been used by Anglicans overseas, with perhaps the most notable instance being that of South African Nobel Prize-winning Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, whose funeral last year involved a form of water compositing known as alkaline hydrolysis.

The method would need to be legalised in the UK and then written into Canon Law, should the Church approve it. But once legalised, other churches and different faiths may use the method, as might organisers of secular funerals.

Whatever the options available, a funeral order of service can certainly play a part in making it a green funeral.

Apart from using recycled paper, it can feature tributes in words and pictures to the commitment made by the deceased to such issues. This can work in tandem with vocal tributes and even other elements like having the coffin pulled by a horse and cart or an electric-powered hearse, while donations may be made to environmental charities or trees planted as part of the commemoration.

Even the coffin might be made from recycled wood, though obviously not from another coffin.

Indeed, at a time when the burning of wood is being restricted by new rules concerning the permitted smoke emissions from wood-burning stoves in people’s homes, it may be that a funeral can be a thought provoking moment; if people can be green in death, how much can we be in life?