Archive for May, 2014
Until recently, there were only two real options when it came to funerals – burial or cremation. Until 1968, burials were the more popular of these two options, as explained in our recent article looking at the history of cremation in the UK. Since 1968 however, cremation has grown in popularity, something we considered in our post on why more people are choosing cremations, so that now around three out of four funerals are cremations. However, are we now starting to see people move away from cremations in favour of something different?
In recent years, as environmental awareness has grown, so too has the desire amongst some people for an environmentally friendly funeral. Research from the Post Office carried out in 2007 showed that nearly 35 per cent of people were planning on having an eco-friendly burial rather than a traditional burial or cremation.
What is an environmentally friendly funeral?
There is no one definition of an environmentally friendly funeral, as there are lots of ways to make a funeral more environmentally friendly. You can choose to have a biodegradable cardboard coffin or an environmentally friendly woven coffin, such as ones made from cane, seagrass, cocostick, banana leaves, loom, bamboo, water hyacinth, or wool, but still hold the funeral in a church and be buried afterwards. You can ask mourners not to send cut flowers and send a donation to a charity instead, or, better yet, ask them to plant a tree in memory of your loved one.
What people generally mean though when they talk about an environmentally friendly funeral is a natural burial. Natural burials tend to take place in fields or secluded woodlands which have been specially designated for the purpose, with people being buried in unmarked graves, with perhaps a tree denoting where they are laid to rest, if anything at all. There are now some 200+ natural burial grounds in the UK, mainly woodlands and meadows. Several are situated within reasonably easy travelling distance of WA Truelove & Son Ltd.
How bad are cremations for the environment?
As people realise how bad cremations are for the environment, they are looking for alternatives. The average cremator runs for 75 minutes at temperatures of up to 1,150°c and, according to the Natural Death Centre, one cremation uses as much energy as a 500 mile car trip. Increasingly, many people do not want their “final journey” to do as much damage to the environment as a car journey from Plymouth to Edinburgh.
Part of a trend?
Our guide to the latest funeral trends looks at how funerals have changed in recent years and notes in particular that funerals have become less religious, focusing on celebration rather than mourning, and more personalised to the individual who has passed away. A natural burial could be viewed as being part of that trend, as a funeral amongst nature could be viewed by many as more uplifting than a funeral in a church, as could visiting a grave in a woodland rather than in a cemetery. A natural burial overall can be without religious association and is far more relaxed and informal occasion than a cremation or normal burial.