“Green” funerals: how to make your funeral more sustainable

With more people now concerned about the environment, funerals which take account of their environmental impact are becoming more popular. After all, when your loved one dies, many of us feel it’s important to plan a funeral that reflects their values. Read our guide to learn more about how you can honour your friend or family member’s wishes.

What are green funerals?

There is no standard industry definition of a “green” or “eco” funeral. All funerals will have an environmental impact to some extent, based on all the choices which have been made for the service.

Depending upon your particular preference or environmental concern, there may be different choices you can make to personalise your funeral in order to take account of environmental factors. For example:

  • Choosing a coffin which has an accreditation, such as Forest Stewardship Council certification
  • Forgoing a headstone to keep the site as natural as possible
  • Planting a tree as a memorial
  • Opting for burial over cremation, in the context that cremation uses a lot of energy
  • Not embalming the body. This process of preserving a body requires the production of chemicals which also leave an environmental impact when in the ground
  • Organising minimal vehicles for funeral attendees. Because cars have a negative impact on the environment, carpooling where possible can reduce the funeral’s carbon footprint

Speak to your funeral director about the different types of coffin available at your chosen funeral home and in order to understand any accreditations or features each coffin has from an environmental perspective.

Woodland burials

If you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional funeral or cremation, a woodland burial could be the answer. Unlike a traditional funeral, woodland burial sites may take into account more of the environmental impact of laying someone to rest in the ground.

Also sometimes known as a “green” burial or natural burial, woodland burials leave behind traditional cemeteries in favour of woodland burial grounds, including meadows and forests. This offers a picturesque resting place for your loved one.

What happens at a woodland burial?

Woodland burials are considered more flexible than a traditional funeral. They do not require hymns or religious readings to be part of the service – although these can be incorporated if you wish. Natural burials may be more free of expectations and tradition, allowing you the freedom to truly consider your loved one’s final wishes as you lay them to rest. As well as this, the bucolic woodland setting in which the burial takes place can inspire a truly beautiful ceremony. Here are some ideas:

  • A memory walk. This allows the funeral party to wander through the woodland site at their leisure, ending at your loved one’s burial plot
  • A simple service at the burial plot. Friends and family can recite poems, read meaningful book extracts or recall happy memories of the deceased
  • A traditional indoor service. Some burial sites have a building or centre where a more traditional-style service can be held
  • An outdoor wake. Some sites offer special areas such as yurts, large tents or gazebos for a wake

One of the main appeals of a woodland funeral is its flexibility. As long as you follow the site rules, generally focused on protecting the site, you can create a memorable ceremony that’s personal to you.

For more information about woodland funerals, including costs, please contact your local funeral directors where our dedicated team will be happy to discuss all your options for funeral services.

Step by step guide

There are several steps in the Funeral Planning process you will have to consider.

Types of funerals​

There are a number of different types of funerals available. Which type of funeral service is right for your loved one?

What happens at a cremation service?

Cremations are fast becoming the norm in Britain with over 70% of families choosing this type of

Further Reading: Cost of a funeral

Find out about funeral costs and what financial support could be available.