It might not be something that you have heard too much about but Green Funerals are an option more and more Australians are choosing to make.
What is a Green Funeral?
Green Funerals, or "natural burials" as they are often known, put a conservationist spin on the traditional burial. Many of the normal preparations are left out of the natural burial process including the use of embalming fluid or chemical preservatives which are typically used to slow the process of decomposition.
As well, the body is placed in a biodegradable coffin instead of a traditional wooden coffin, and laid to rest in a shallow grave. The reason for this is that it benefits the Earth from which we came from.
There are usually no headstones in a green cemetery. The goal is for the land to remain undisturbed and in its natural state. Instead, each body is buried with its own GPS transmitting device; this way, relatives of the deceased can navigate their way over the unmarked ground (using hand-held satellite systems) to visit their loved ones.
Who can have a Green Funeral?
Anybody that nominates to have a natural burial is able to be buried using these procedures. However, if you're planning a funeral for a recently passed loved one, it is best to check any last testaments or wills to ensure that they did not request a religious ceremony as a natural burial leaves out many traditional elements.
Green cemeteries: where are they?
Since there are no headstones in a natural cemetery, it can be difficult to pick them out compared to the cemeteries we are typically familiar with. Sydney received its first natural cemetery, Saint Francis Field (located within the Catholic Kemps Creek Cemetery) back in 2010.
Other ways to hold Green Funerals
If you're uncomfortable with the idea of a natural burial, there are other ways in which you can be environmentally conscious:
- Prepare a living will so that your next of kin will know what your wishes are should you need life support
- Organ and Tissue Donation can mean life or sight to the recipient - if you wish to donate your organs, let your family know, indicate your choice on your driver's licence or register with the Australian Organ Donation Register
- Body Donation is another way to reuse the body - scientific knowledge gained from medical research is a wonderful gift to medical students and future generations
- Opt to leave out embalming as it requires the use of dangerous chemicals that can poison the earth or pollute water supplies
- Caskets and Coffins made from simple wood are some of the most environmentally friendly body containers
- Instead of sending flowers, you can make a donation to a charity or organisation that your loved one was associated with
Have you been to a Green Funeral or it something you're planning? How does it compare (for you) to a traditional funeral?