How to be more green in death

Monday 17th February 2020 | Grace

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but one day, we will all die. In life, we are doing what we can to preserve the earth for the future, whilst in death, we focus more on the black than the green. It’s estimated that if a person is cremated, they release 1.4 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere (that’s just short of a flight from London to LA) and if a person is buried in a traditional, varnished coffin, as we all know from zombie movies, the wood can take a while to break down in the soil.

Without trying to be morbid, I think it's okay to think more about death as a society. And with that in mind, there are many alternatives for a greener, more environmentally friendly death that shouldn’t just be left for your inner goth to think about. These are just a few ways that you can continue to make the world a better place beyond life on Earth.

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Tree pods

Whilst for the time being this is more of an idea than a reality, the thought process behind it is as eco as death can be. The theory being worked on is that when dead, people will be put into egg shaped pods and buried underneath a tree so that the nutrients from the body will feed the tree. The only problem right now is space, but people are working on a way to re-design traditional cemeteries and have plots of land dedicated to trees instead of graves.

Natural Wicker Coffins & Caskets

Woven caskets

As a biodegradable alternative to varnished wood, people can be buried in a woven casket made out of material like sugar cane, banana leave, bamboo or willow. The one thing to think about in this case is where the material has come from, but otherwise, if decorated with flowers, this is a beautiful alternative.

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Compost funeral

This is a very new, but very eco-friendly way of dealing with death where a dead body degrades through integrating with the soil. Relatives can then scatter the remains where they wish. "The project has moved forward so quickly because of the urgency of climate change and the awareness we have to put it right," says the founder of the project, Katrina Spade.

Bios Urn - Become a Tree

Tree urns

This idea is very similar to the tree pod, but instead a person’s cremated remains are placed in a biodegradable container, placed next to a tree, which then biodegrades and nourishes that tree. However, it has been criticised for being hard to grow in certain areas of nature.

With around 7.8 billion people living on the planet, it’s time we start to think about how our death will affect the way life continues.