How to Have a Green Burial with Cremation Ashes

People are increasingly becoming concerned about environmental degradation and climate change throughout the world. Many are taking active steps to reduce their carbon footprints and maintain an environmentally conscious lifestyle. But rarely do they consider how to continue to do so after their lives come to an end.

Traditional burial practices can have serious long-term environmental consequences, which can dismay environmentally conscious people and families who are seeking a meaningful service for them.

Although it is still not a well-known or completely accepted idea, a green burial with cremation ashes in lieu of a traditional burial offers a simple and environmentally sound solution.

Make Your Wishes Known as Frequently as Possible

If you are interested in having a green burial, the first step is to make sure that everyone who may be involved in the arranging of your affairs knows your intentions. When drafting your will, make sure that your wishes for an environmentally friendly service and how you wish that to be accomplished are clearly stated within it. Share your wishes explicitly with your loved ones, especially anyone you’ve selected to serve as an executor of your will.

If you are arranging a funeral for a loved one who you are confident would desire a green burial, you can ask the funeral director of the funeral home or cremation service you’re considering if the option for an eco-friendly service is available to you.

Cremation Ashes are Necessary for Green Burial

Studies show that cremation, as opposed to traditional burial the remains of the deceased, is better for the environment long-term. This might seem to contradict what is commonly known about tissue decomposition. Environmentally conscious people often have questions about the carbon footprint cremation leaves. Doesn’t burning anything cause more air pollution? Do our decomposed bodies add new nutrients to the earth through burial?

While both of these facts are technically true, they fail to account for some key facts about cremation and burial practices. First, recent innovations in crematoriums have drastically reduced carbon emissions, making the overall process much more eco-friendly. Crucially, cremation is a one-time affair—while it may consume natural gas, it only does so for the short time needed to complete the process.

Second, many towns and states have serious regulations concerning burial plots and casket construction. While many caskets are made of bio-degradable wood, others are made of light metal and designed with air-tight seals and locks, which prevent the body from returning to the earth. Chemicals used during the embalming process can be considered harmful to the environment, and traditional burials use a resource that we rarely think about—space. You need a large delegated space for burials, which can’t be used for anything else. Further, this space often requires constant maintenance, which can drain local resources. Many town ordinances and state laws mandate a concrete vault for traditional burials, which can also disrupt the local wildlife.

In contrast, cremation ashes don’t have the same level of regulations attached to them. They do not require burial or landscape manipulation. You can spread cremation ashes almost anywhere, provided you get permission from relevant local officials. Therefore, a cremation and ash scattering service is far less resource intensive and is much more likely to be part of a green burial.

A Green Burial at Sea

Perhaps the most environmentally-friendly burial option open to the conscientious mourner or concerned planner for their cremation ashes is an ash scattering at sea. It requires no reservation of space and only a perfunctory informing of the local EPA. Cremation ashes will have only a marginal, if any, effect on local ocean wildlife, and it is easy to arrange and conduct.

Ultimately, a cremation service will be infinitely greener than a traditional casket burial no matter how you choose to do it. Spreading cremation ashes will mean less consumption and more flexibility in terms of burial location, which ultimately will mean less environmental damage in the long term. If you wish to hold a green burial via a cremation service, contact Boston Cremation. We offer a variety of service options to accommodate your family and to give you the service that is most meaningful to you. Call us today at (781) 322-0909.


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