As people become increasingly concerned about the environment, green funerals are becoming more popular. A green funeral is an eco-friendly way of saying goodbye to a loved one, when compared to more traditional burials and cremation. 

Green funerals aim to minimise the impact on the environment and promote sustainability. In this article, we will help you understand what is a green funeral in Australia.

What is a green funeral?

A green funeral is a way of saying goodbye to a loved one that minimises the impact on the environment. Green funerals aim to use natural and sustainable materials and processes. Green funerals typically involve burial or cremation without embalming or using toxic materials, which can seep into the ground and affect the earth around the gravesite.

Some examples of what you might see at a green funeral include:

  • The body is buried at a green cemetery, a natural burial site, or on private land. There are several locations across the country that cater to natural burials.
  • The coffin, casket or shroud will be made of environmentally conscious materials.
  • Grave liners and burial vaults aren’t used.
  • The body is dressed in biodegradable clothing.
  • The body is not embalmed, and instead is kept cold until the day of burial.
  • The grave is marked with a natural gravemarker, a tree, or none at all.
  • A specialist green funeral director may be used.
  • If the person is cremated, their ashes may be buried in an eco-urn, such as the Eco Water Urn or the Eco Scattering Urn

Why choose a green funeral?

With a huge push towards sustainability, tackling climate change and reducing the impact we leave on this earth, many people are considering the most environmentally friendly option for body disposal.

Green funerals generally have a much lower carbon footprint than traditional burials, and many people find that the process of a green funeral, which is directly honouring the deceased’s wishes and values, is a more meaningful and personal way to say goodbye. 

Benefits of a green funeral. 

Other than the obvious environmental impact and benefit, some may opt for a green burial as it can be significantly cheaper than a traditional burial. Removing the headstone, elaborate coffin and embalming process takes away a large part of the cost of a traditional funeral. 

Natural burial grounds across Australia.

Here is a list of cemeteries who specialise in green funerals and natural burial grounds. Some may also offer traditional burials and green burials in different sections of their cemeteries.

NSW natural burial grounds

VIC natural burial grounds

ACT natural burial grounds

QLD natural burial grounds

WA natural burial grounds

TAS natural burial grounds

SA natural burial grounds

Green coffins and caskets.

Traditional coffins and caskets are made from wood or metal such as stainless steel, with other non-biodegradable materials for the lining and finishes. These types of coffins can take hundreds of years to break down with toxic materials entering the environment.

This is why more and more people are moving away from traditional coffins and looking for eco-friendly alternatives.

Some materials that can be used for green coffins and caskets include:

  1. Bamboo: Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable material that is popular for its strength and durability.
  2. Willow: Willow is a flexible and sustainable material that is commonly used for baskets and coffins.
  3. Pine: Pine is a natural and renewable material that is often used for simple and affordable coffins.
  4. Cardboard: Cardboard is an affordable and biodegradable material that is a popular choice for eco-friendly coffins.
  5. Wool: Wool is a sustainable and biodegradable material that is used for shrouds and eco-friendly caskets.

These materials are all biodegradable and compostable, which means they break down naturally over time without harming the environment.

All Bare Cremations use an eco-friendly coffin to reduce the overall environmental impact of the cremation.

Marking the grave of the natural burial site.

A stone headstone is not a natural or eco-friendly option, so for a green funeral a natural gravemarker is required. The cemetery or memorial may provide you with the coordinates of the deceased’s grave to make it easier to visit, however you can also add a natural gravemarker, such as:

  • A tree - the body may be buried near a tree as a signifier.
  • A plant - look into what is native to the area.
  • A rock - either plain or engraved.
  • A personalised wooden sign.

Cost of green funerals.

The cost of a green funeral can sit somewhere between the cost of a cremation and traditional burial, anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000, according to Kingston Funerals.

Without the cost of maintaining cemetery grounds, a shroud instead of a coffin, no headstone or embalming, pricing of a green burial can be significantly cheaper than a traditional burial.

What is the future of green funerals in Australia?

It’s hard to predict how long it will take for green funerals to become more commonplace in Australia, as currently these services are few and far between.

According to the Australian Seniors Cost of Death report, whilst 29.6% of Seniors are seeing a movement towards more eco-friendly and green funerals, many believe this in part due to the lower cost compared to a traditional burial, which is a more important factor in the decision process.

In the meantime, people tend to weigh up the differences between burial and cremation to see which is more eco-friendly. Whilst it is true that cremation generates more carbon dioxide than burial, between all the maintenance of grounds, use of land and embalming fluids seeping into the earth, in the long term burial takes up more labour, resources and overall negative impact on the environment.

Other forms of green body disposal methods that are set to increase in the coming years include aquamation, promession and recomposition. You can read more about these here.

There is also progress being made in the cremation space, with a move towards electric cremators instead of gas. According to the CDS report, electric cremators release around 90% less carbon compared to conventional gas cremators.

To learn more about our simple cremation arrangements or to get a quote for a funeral, visit our website here, or give us a call. To arrange an at-need or imminent cremation call 1800 071 176, or for a prepaid cremation call 1800 202 901.