As the need to take care of our planet becomes increasingly urgent, many of us are looking for ways to reduce the negative impact we have on the environment. You may have already taken steps to live more sustainably…but have you thought about dying more sustainably?
Typically, most people consider two options when they’re deciding how they’d like their bodies to be laid to rest: burial (in a traditional casket) and cremation. However, there are more eco-friendly alternatives available, including the increasingly popular concept of green funerals.
Each year, approximately 30 million board feet of casket wood (some of which comes from tropical hardwoods), 90,000 tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of concrete for burial vaults, and 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid are used for funerals in the U.S. alone.
Formaldehyde and other chemicals typically used to prepare the body for burial aren’t healthy for the planet or for the funeral directors who do the preparation. Studies have suggested that prolonged exposure to formaldehyde may increase risk of asthma, cancer, and even ALS.
Green burials follow a certified process designed to let you not only minimize the environmental impact of burial, but also give your body back to the earth in a way that maximizes conservation efforts. Green (or “natural”) burial involves no embalming, and caskets or shrouds are made out of responsibly harvested, non-toxic, biodegradable materials such as untreated pine wood, bamboo, banana leaves, wicker, and natural textiles like hemp and wool.
Being buried in a wicker basket might sound crazy, but a study in 2015 showed that 64% of Americans age 40 and over said that they would be interested in green burial options. That was up from just 43% in 2010, and as the population trends toward greater eco-consciousness, it may be even higher now.
If you’d prefer not to be buried in a traditional sense, check out this list of creative options you may not have considered:
• Donate your body to science
• Become part of a coral reef
• Get turned into a diamond
• Have your ashes pressed into a vinyl record
Whether you choose a certified green burial or one of the other options above—or even if you opt for a more traditional funeral—there are plenty of small ways you can honor the planet during the celebration of your life.
A Mindful Meal
When loved ones gather to remember you, plan for the food served to be local, organic, and/or sustainably raised. Request that recycled and/or compostable paper products and utensils be used.
Suggest local, organic florists for anyone who wishes to send flowers as a remembrance. Not only will you know that the flowers brightening your service weren’t treated with pesticides, but you’ll also reduce the miles arrangements have to travel (and the emissions that correspond to those miles).
A Good Cause
If flowers aren’t that important to you, ask that your loved ones make a donation to your favorite environmental organization instead.
The Gift of Planning Ahead
However you choose to be remembered, having a plan in place can make things much easier on the family and friends you leave behind. Final Wishes Covered℠ offers final expense life insurance policies that can help cover the cost of your end-of-life requests and reduce stress on the people you love the most. Visit us today for more information and a free, personalized quote.