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Green to the End



Millions of people around the world now try to live in an ecologically sensitive way, avoiding waste and pollution and trying to keep the planet clean and green. But many of them don’t just want a green lifestyle – they want a green deathstyle too. Eco-friendly funerals are growing more and more popular. We come from the earth, so why shouldn’t we return to it after we pass away?

It’s an entirely natural process, after all. As the old song goes: “The worms crawl in and the worms crawl out – they go in thin and come out stout!” Undertaking isn’t just a profession for human beings. Many species of animals are also experts in death. You might say they make their living by it. People who choose a green funeral are happy at the thought that their bodies will handed over to nature’s undertakers when they pass away. That’s why they want their coffins to be eco-friendly too.

No sturdy oak and metal fittings for them. They don’t want their coffins to stay in the soil for decades or even centuries. Instead, they choose wicker coffins that won’t keep out water or worms and that will rot naturally too. They want their bodies to nourish the earth, not stay separate from it. Bones and hair are the longest-lasting parts of a body, but even they will crumble to nothing in the right conditions, broken up by fungi and micro-organisms.

Some people won’t like the idea of that. They’ll prefer a secure coffin or they’ll avoid burial altogether and ask to be cremated. That’s fine: in a free country, we should have as much choice as possible. A green burial isn’t for everyone, but it’s good that those who want one now find it easy to arrange one. And you can save money too. Because nature has millions of years of experience in disposing of the dead, she works very quickly and efficiently. It’s much harder to preserve a body than to allow it to decay. It’s much more expensive too. Embalming and sturdy coffins cost a lot of money. A green burial can be both simpler and cheaper. The earth does the work as we return whence we came.

National Federation of Funeral Directors