Embracing Green Farewells: How to Plan an Environmentally Friendly Funeral

In recent years, the world has become increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of our daily lives. This consciousness has extended to the way we handle the end-of-life ceremonies of our loved ones. Traditional funerals can be resource-intensive, with cremations, embalming, and coffin production contributing to pollution and resource depletion. Fortunately, there is a growing trend towards environmentally friendly funerals that aim to reduce our carbon footprint and honour the memory of our loved ones in a sustainable way. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to plan an environmentally friendly funeral that celebrates life while respecting the planet.

Choose Green Burial

One of the most environmentally friendly options for a funeral is a green burial. Unlike traditional burials that can involve concrete vaults, green burials emphasise simplicity and sustainability. Here’s how you can plan a green burial:

Select a natural burial ground: Look for cemeteries or natural burial grounds that allow for biodegradable coffins, shrouds, or even simple wooden coffins. These options decompose naturally, leaving a minimal ecological footprint. The nearest to us in Crowborough, East Sussex are:

Eden Valley Woodland Burial Ground: Located in Edenbridge, Kent, this burial ground is affordable, green and the natural choice for a Natural Burial

Clayton Wood Natural Burial Ground: Located in Clayton, West Sussex, this burial ground is set in 15 acres of countryside within the South Downs National Park. It has various dedicated areas for full natural burial and cremated remains, as well as memorial scattering lawns, surrounded by native trees for future generations to enjoy. They are working with the Wildlife Trust to develop a long-term conservation plan 

Skip embalming: Embalming chemicals can be harmful to the environment. Natural burial involves wrapping the deceased in a biodegradable shroud or placing them in a biodegradable coffin. Over time, the body returns to the earth, enriching the soil. Plant a tree or wildflowers: Some green burial sites offer the option to plant a tree or wildflowers at the gravesite, creating a living memorial that contributes positively to the ecosystem.

Eco-Friendly Coffins and Urns

If a green burial isn’t possible, consider eco-friendly coffins and urns for cremation.

Options include:

Biodegradable coffins: Choose coffins made from materials like bamboo, willow, or cardboard. These materials break down naturally over time, reducing the environmental impact.

Urns made from sustainable materials: Select urns made from recycled or sustainable materials like biodegradable paper, willow, bamboo, clay, or recycled glass. Consider urns that give back to nature, grow a living memory with Urns For Ashes | The Living Urn UK® | Bio Urn and Memory Trees – thelivingurnuk

Offset Carbon Emissions

Here at Aurora Funerals, Crowborough, East Sussex we have a ceremony room on-site for funeral services with up to 50 attendees, we can also cater for the wake without the need to move venue. This option reduces carbon emissions. There will be no need for guests to drive the 9 miles+ to the nearest crematorium or for further journeys to the wake/celebration of life venue.

Funeral transportation and cremations can produce significant carbon emissions. To mitigate this, consider:

Virtual attendance: Encourage virtual attendance for friends and family who live far away to reduce travel-related emissions.

Offset cremation emissions: Some organisations offer carbon offset programs specifically for cremations. These initiatives invest in renewable energy or reforestation projects to balance out the carbon emissions produced.

Hearse transportation: Select a eco-friendly electric hearse.

Reduce Funeral Paper Waste

Traditional funerals often generate a significant amount of paper waste, from printed order of services to memorial cards. Opt for digital alternatives or use recycled paper and soy-based inks for any printed materials.

Sustainable Funeral / Memorial Services

When planning memorial or funeral services, consider these eco-friendly ideas:

Outdoor services: Host the memorial or funeral service in a natural setting like a park, woodland or garden to reduce the need for electricity and heating/cooling.

Funeral flowers, ask attendees to bring flowers from their gardens,

LED lighting: If indoor services are necessary, use energy-efficient LED lighting and encourage attendees to carpool or use public transportation.

Donations to Eco-Causes

In lieu of traditional funeral flowers, ask attendees to make donations to environmental charities or causes that were close to the deceased’s heart. This allows your loved one’s memory to have a positive impact on the planet.


As we strive to lead more environmentally conscious lives, it’s important to extend these values to our end-of-life ceremonies. Planning an environmentally friendly funeral is a meaningful way to celebrate a loved one’s life while also honouring the Earth. From green burials to eco-friendly coffins, there are numerous ways to ensure that the final farewell is a sustainable and responsible one. By choosing eco-friendly options, we can create a lasting legacy that not only reflects the values of the deceased but also helps protect the planet for future generations.

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