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  • Writer's pictureBrooklyn Nieves

Embracing Environmentally Friendly Funeral Traditions: A Guide to Sustainable Memorialization.

Updated: Jun 3

As awareness of environmental issues grows, many of us are looking for ways to align our final arrangements with our values of sustainability and respect for the planet. Changing to environmentally friendly funeral traditions is a meaningful way to honor our loved ones while minimizing our ecological footprint.

Here’s a guide to making more eco-friendly choices in funeral and memorial practices.

1. Natural Burials

Natural burials, also known as green burials, are a key component of eco-friendly funeral traditions. This practice involves burying the body in a biodegradable coffin, shroud, or even without a container, allowing it to decompose naturally. This method can be costly, but it avoids the use of embalming chemicals and non-biodegradable materials, promoting the natural cycle of life.

2. Aquamation

Water cremation, also known as aquamation or alkaline hydrolysis, uses lye and heat in the cremation process to reduce remains to "ash". This process produces less carbon output than "flame cremation" and is becoming an increasingly popular option.

3. Eco-Friendly Embalming Alternatives

Standard embalming fluids contain harmful chemicals like formaldehyde. Opting for eco-friendly embalming alternatives, such as essential oil-based solutions, can significantly lessen the environmental impact. Some green burial sites even forgo embalming altogether to ensure a completely natural process.

4. Conservation Placement

Choosing a conservation burial ground or memorial garden ensures that the final placement site contributes to land conservation efforts. These protected natural areas support local ecosystems, creating a living memorial that benefits the environment.

5. Cremation with Carbon Offsets

While cremation is generally considered a more environmentally-friendly option than traditional burial, it still produces carbon emissions. To offset this impact, some services offer carbon offset programs that invest in renewable energy or reforestation projects to neutralize the environmental cost of cremation.

6. Digital Memorials

Digital memorials offer a modern, eco-friendly alternative to physical monuments. Websites, social media pages, and virtual ceremonies can commemorate loved ones without the need for materials and resources associated with traditional markers, reducing the environmental footprint of memorialization.

7. Sustainable Funeral Practices

Small changes in funeral practices can make a significant difference. Encouraging carpooling to the funeral, using recycled paper for funeral programs, and opting for locally sourced flowers are all ways to reduce the environmental impact of the service.


Transitioning to environmentally friendly funeral traditions is a meaningful way to honor our loved ones and care for the planet. By choosing sustainable options like natural burials, biodegradable caskets, and conservation burial grounds, we can ensure that our final acts reflect our values of respect and stewardship for the earth. In embracing these practices, we create lasting legacies that honor both our loved ones and the world they cherished.

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