It’s no secret that funerals have a significant environmental impact. From the energy used to transport the body and the materials used in burial or cremation, to the flowers and other decorations that are often a part of the process.

As there’s a larger push towards sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint, newer, less mainstream options are beginning to pop us across the globe.

Green burials.

Natural burials, also known as green burials, aim to minimise the environmental impact of the burial process. This can include using biodegradable caskets or shrouds instead of traditional coffins, and choosing a burial site that is set aside specifically for this purpose. 

Natural burial sites often use minimal amounts of chemicals and may be managed in a way that promotes the growth of native plants and wildlife. The burials sites are dug at half the depth of traditional burials, leaving less of an impact on the land.


Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation or aquamation, uses water and alkaline solutions to break down a body into its basic elements. The process is similar to traditional cremation, but it uses significantly less energy and produces fewer emissions.

Aquamation operates at a much lower temperature than fire cremation and produces less than 10% of the carbon emissions. Aquamation also produces much fewer carbon emissions than a standard burial. Plus, you can still receive your loved one’s ashes after aquamation.


Promession is a process that involves freezing the body, then using vibration and liquid nitrogen to shatter it into small pieces. These pieces can then be dried and reduced to a fine powder, which can be used as a natural fertiliser.

If you prefer to be buried, the innovative method prepares the body for a burial that mimics nature’s way of decomposition. Within a year the organic remains will be fully integrated with the soil.

Promession is currently not legal in many countries and isn’t available in Australia.


Recomposition, also known as natural organic reduction, is essentially human composting. The process uses a mixture of water, alkaline solutions, and microbes to break down a body into soil. The body is laid in a vessel surrounded by wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. The vessel is closed and the transformation into soil begins. The process takes several weeks, and the resulting soil can be used to grow plants or trees.

This kind of natural burial is currently only available in Seattle, USA, by the company Recompose.

Mainstream ways for a more sustainable funeral.

Unfortunately many of these options are still quite obscure and rare, so can be hard to come across. Here are some things to consider for more standard body disposal methods.

Donate your body to science.

Not traditionally eco-friendly but more of a way but more of a way your body can bring about a positive impact. Donating your body to science can be a meaningful way to contribute to research and education, and it can also be a more environmentally friendly option than traditional burial or cremation. 

Medical schools and research institutions often accept donations, and can use the body for a range of purposes, including anatomy study and surgical training. The body will be cremated once the university or institute no longer needs it, and the ashes will be returned to the family.

Read more about donating your body to science here.

Cremation vs burial.

Cremation is generally more environmentally friendly than traditional burial. It uses significantly less land and resources, and can be done using renewable energy sources. 

Despite cremations generating more carbon dioxide than burials, weighing up the long-term impacts, burial generally has a 10% higher environmental impact than cremation, as it is a more labour and resource-intensive process.

Embalming fluid is another huge contributor to damaging the environment, as the chemicals are buried in the ground and gradually work their way into the soil and underground waterways.

Additionally, cremated remains can be scattered in a natural setting, rather than being interred in a cemetery.

Read more about the environmental impacts of cremation and burial.

Final thoughts on sustainable funeral options.

There are a number of alternatives to burial and cremation that are more environmentally friendly and can help reduce the impact on the environment. By considering these alternatives, individuals can ensure that their final wishes are carried out in a way that is respectful to the environment.

It's important to note that these options may not be available in all areas and may require additional research to determine their feasibility and legality. Many of these options aren’t available in certain regions yet, and might pose a high price tag.

It's also worth discussing your preferences with your family and funeral director to ensure that your wishes are carried out in a way that is both meaningful and respectful.

If you're interested in a cremation with Bare, please give us a call on 1800 071 176 or head to the link below for an instant quote and to learn more.