In recent decades the trend for green, or natural, burials has been rising, but what exactly is a green burial, and is it something you should consider for you or your loved one? Here we address both these questions in the hope of helping you decide whether it's a consideration for your situation.
A green burial, sometimes called a natural burial, is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional funeral services like coffin burials and cremations. The green burial removes the aspects of a burial that are harmful to the environment – there is no bulky headstone, no embalming fluids and coffins are made from biodegradable materials. The burial site itself also tends to be left to regenerate naturally, unlike traditional cemeteries which become problematic when they are full.
As pointed out in this Guardian article on the trend, the green burial is ideal for someone who has been a supporter of the environment during their life. As mentioned above, green burials don't involve all the usual costs and resources that more traditional burials do, and many people find them to be a good way to commemorate the deceased, while allowing their passing to make a positive, or at least neutral, impact on the natural world.
It's also worth noting that since green burials have become such a popular and established funeral option – there are now more than 200 green burial sites in the UK – they have become much easier to organise and regulate.
While the message of the green burial is a very positive one, some struggle to come to terms with the strict rules surrounding natural burials. For example, with a green burial, individual plots tend to be left unmarked to avoid the environmental impact and permanence of headstones, meaning that relatives can feel that they don't have a specific place to grieve. The site itself is often repurposed as a wildlife reserve unlike with a traditional, purpose-built cemetery.