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What is an eco burial?

An eco burial is an environmentally-friendly alternative to a traditional funeral service. Typically, the main considerations with eco funerals are earth preservation and carbon footprint reduction – something your loved one may have held dear to them before they passed.

If your loved one requested an eco burial, or it’s something you and your family are considering, this guide will give you all the information you need to help with this decision.

Arranging an eco-friendly burial

If your loved one was heavily involved with protecting the planet, or expressed their interest in the environment, an eco burial could be the ideal send-off for them. If you're arranging an eco-friendly burial, there are a few elements you may wish to consider, such as:

  • Biodegradable urns
  • Tree pod burial
  • Burial shrouds
  • Woodland burial sites
  • Eco friendly coffins
  • Alternative transportation


Biodegradable urns

If you choose a cremation for your loved one, burying the ashes in a biodegradable urn will have a positive effect on the environment. These can be designed to decompose when buried in the earth, with a new tree seed planted above that will take nourishment from the ashes.

It’s also worth considering scattering the ashes over a larger patch of soil, as this can be less harmful for plants in the vicinity.


Tree pod burials

The concept of eco burial tree pods is becoming more prominent as one of the top future eco burial options.

Tree pods adhere to the motto “life never stops”. By recognising that human beings are part of “nature’s cycle of transformation”, the idea of tree pods allows the deceased to be buried in the ancient form of a biodegradable egg pod. If a body is buried, it is placed in the foetal position to represent rebirth, while ashes are placed in much smaller pods.

The pods are then placed into the ground. A tree would be planted above them, which would then grow to represent a memorial for the deceased beneath it. Capsula Mundi is the name of the project currently working on the concept of tree pods.


Burial shroud

A burial shroud is a large piece of material in which the deceased’s body is wrapped. These can be made of fabrics such as cotton, linen, muslin, or even hemp. Some people may choose to have a silk burial shroud. How you decorate your loved one’s burial shroud is up to you – some have large pockets sewn on top so you can add keepsakes and fragrant herbs.

What is the purpose of a burial shroud?

Shrouding is synonymous with some faiths and practices but it’s also an eco-friendly burial option for those who were environmentally conscious before they died. Shrouding also helps to control any body leakages after death, especially when a shroud made from biodegradable absorbent cloths and bags is used. You may have heard of a “mushroom shroud burial” – this is when mushroom spores are threaded to the shroud, which then begin to grow once the body has been placed in the earth.


Woodland burial sites

Choosing a woodland burial site is considered to be more eco-friendly than being buried in a cemetery; in a cemetery the environment isn’t wholly natural. Natural burial sites are woodland areas, forests or meadows where you can plant natural memorials like trees and plants. Woodland burial sites rarely allow headstones or memorials.

Find out more about woodland burials.


Eco-friendly coffins

One main component of an eco funeral is the use of eco-friendly coffins. The idea is to stay away from traditional wooden coffins and caskets as these impact tree life. Instead, your loved one may have left wishes for you to consider other materials for their coffin such as:

  • Bamboo
  • Banana leaf
  • Willow
  • Pine
  • Cardboard

If an environmentally-friendly burial is something you and your family are considering for your loved one, choosing an eco-friendly coffin is an ideal place to start. They are typically 100% natural and biodegradable and are made from renewable and sustainable materials.


Alternative transportation

This may be difficult depending on the burial site you’ve chosen for your loved one, but you could get eco-friendly with the way in which you and other mourners travel to the funeral.

Rather than consume petrol in a funeral car, consider walking or cycling. Or, if you need to drive, try sharing lifts with other people to minimise the number of cars in the funeral procession.

 

There are many eco burial options available – it all depends on what you think is best for your loved one and how invested they were in protecting the environment. The core idea of an eco funeral is sending a body back to nature, where it can decompose and re-grow as a tree, plant or other living organism.

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