I am extremely supportive of offering families a greener alternative in funerals. I often work with families as a “Death Care Advocate.” If you require independent advice on anything to do with death and dying, please call me on 0408691405. I will assist you to understand your choices, your rights and the law pertaining to funerals in language that you can understand.
We know from many sources that there is a global movement towards green burials, and using more environmentally friendly products. I can help you source those products.
Natural burial means no headstone, no embalming, no fancy furnished coffin (sometimes it means no coffin), and no ‘six feet under’ either.
Centennial Park Cemetery chief executive Bryan Elliott said that every cremation created around 160 kg (353 pounds) of carbon dioxide, compared to 39 kg of carbon dioxide for each burial. But when the cost of maintaining grave sites, mostly covered by lawns at Centennial Park, is taken into account, cremations came out 10 percent greener than burials.
A greener alternative can take many forms:
From the car that takes you to the ceremony, to coffins made from woven wicker, plantation pine or recycled cardboard – or maybe just a shroud or more environmentally friendly garment.
The venue of the funeral – this can be any option you wish. Australians have been conditioned to believe the only option we have is to sit in dreary dark chapels. This is not the only option we have. There are many gorgeous venues that offer a better alternative. Why not consider a special venue – outside.
Many people do not realise that in many cases you can have the body at home until the funeral – and some families even apply to have the body buried on their private property. In some states it is possible to bury someone on your own private property, and not in a cemetery. For more detail on this you would need to contact your local council to enquire about their policy for burial on private ground. Please note it is imperative that you comply with council regulations.
To bury a person on private land there are a few things that will be taken into account :
- the size of the land
- making sure the person who owns the land has given permission
- you will be required to register the grave site on the DP (Deposited Plan of the property),
- the Health Dept will have to approve the selected spot
- and the grave must be dug to the approved depth, with a minimum clearance from the lid.
For more ideas on Green Funerals please visit http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/faqs-fiction/
Thoughts on fashion designs for the grave.
For more information on this please go to the website of the fashion designer involved Pia Interlandi.
Building a coffin
All bodies that are buried or cremated must be in a coffin at the time of disposal, unless approval is granted by the Director General. (For example, many Muslims are granted approval for burial in a shroud.) The Regulations do not specify any design restrictions but the funeral industry is currently producing some guidelines. This is to make sure that coffins meet logistic requirements such as fitting standard grave dimensions, or cremators, and meeting occupational health and safety requirements.
All coffins for cremation must have a fixed, but easy to remove nameplate, that is used in tracking the identity of the remains through the cremation process. It is possible to build your own coffin, to purchase a cardboard coffin from interstate, or to purchase a bamboo coffin from overseas. However, it may be difficult to find a funeral director who is prepared to use a coffin that they have not supplied. Cardboard coffins are legal and accepted throughout Australia.
Decorating a Coffin
Over the years I’ve seen many beautifully decorated coffins. Some are painted and decorated with a variety of things and others were covered with hand made quilts. The DIY Coffin from LifeArt is finished in white recycled paper suitable for artwork using decoupage, crayons, oil pastels, charcoal, felt pen, oil paints, acrylic paints.
So that prompts the BIG question : WHY USE A FUNERAL DIRECTOR?
There is no legal requirement to use a funeral director. So why not think about how you could handle this yourself. There are many options avaialble to you and your family – with a little planning and the assistance of others (a good celebrant) you could handle most of it yourself.
What are ways that you can reduce the impact on the environment?
- One thing that you can do to reduce the environmental impact of your final rest, is to skip the embalming process. This is often a preferred way to go for green funerals. Embalming uses highly toxic agents to slow the body’s decomposition. This is done mainly for the benefit of loved ones and in most cases isn’t necessary. By avoiding the embalming process, you avoid release of toxic agents, either through the soil or in the atmosphere. If most funeral directors were honest with you – they would tell you that when they die – they will not be embalmed. That’s a pretty good indication that it’s not necessary.
- Don’t use a coffin at all – you can get buried or cremated in a shroud.
- Or have an environmentally friendly casket/coffin made. Have a coffin constructed from bamboo, jute, or even cardboard. These materials degrade much faster than hardwood. You even have the choice of using a biodegradable urn, if you wish.
- Have your order of service made from recycled paper.
- Order flowers that have been grown organically.
- Carpool from the funeral service to final site.
- Any step that can be taken to lessen the impact of the event upon the environment is a green initiative.