Green Funerals: Eco-Friendly Burials

With the climate crisis one of the main talking points of the 21st century – and for good reason – all industries and sectors are now looking at how operations can be made more sustainable. 

And the funeral sector is no exception. According to ShoutOutUK, both burials and cremations have a significant impact on the planet. 

The common perception that cremation is a more environmentally friendly option is someway adrift from reality. A single cremation, for example, produces the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as a 500-mile car journey.

This has led to the emergence of the ‘new death movement’, which aims to revolutionise the way we view and approach our earthly vessels once we have departed.

Dr Hannah Rumble from the University of Bath’s Centre for Death and Society described the new movement as “a kind of re-enchantment”.

Central to the movement is being positive about death and believing that it is neither taboo nor morbid – and we need to talk openly about the passing of a loved one. Being able to hold honest conversations regarding death and dying is the cornerstone of a healthy society.

Despite the mainstream popularity of casket burials and cremation, the emergence of greener alternatives has the potential to cause a seismic shift within the bereavement industry.

While the will to embrace this new movement is gaining ground in other parts of the world, and notably in the US, my feeling is that the debate on this matter in the UK has barely begun.

For any of the new technologies being explored by the new death movement to gain a foothold in the UK, our relationship to death and the afterlife will have to undergo a seismic shift before this can happen… if, indeed, it ever will.

One of the biggest criticisms of the bereavement sector is that it has been turned into a large-scale industrial operation without any feeling for the departed and the loved ones they leave behind. 

The irony of the new death movement in the US is that the new technologies they espouse are themselves beholden to the large-scale industrialisation that they decry.

They say that if an idea takes hold in the States, then it is only a matter of time before it appears over here.

In the case of the new death movement, I’m not so sure. But it is only by having an open and honest debate that we can truly decide for ourselves.

Families suffering the immediate grief of a bereavement are not best placed to take in the nuances of this debate but a wider airing in the media in general can only be a good thing.

Not least that we can highlight some of the alternatives to traditional burials available to us in the UK today.


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