The growth in eco-friendly funerals

As the world’s population grows, more people are opting for a greener goodbye with a funeral that has less impact on the environment.

Data from a recent survey by insurance company Sun Life shows an increase in the number of eco- funerals taking place in the UK, from 1 in 14 in 2016 to 1 in 11 in 2017. This trend reflects people’s growing concerns about climate change and a desire to reduce their personal environmental footprint, both during and after their lives.

There are no set rules as to what constitutes an eco-friendly funeral, although most tend to favour burial in order to avoid the considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by cremation. A single cremation can use as much gas and electricity as one person uses in their home for a whole month. As well as greenhouse gases, cremation also contributes to mercury pollution via dental fillings.

The choice of coffin is another big environmental consideration. A lot of traditional coffins contain a formaldehyde resin which eventually leeches into the ground after burial, or gets burnt into the atmosphere during cremation. At WR Bettelley we offer a range of eco coffins made from biodegradable materials such as cardboard or wicker, as well as environmentally-friendly shrouds made from cotton or wool.

There has been a steady increase in the number of woodland burial sites in recent years, offering people a natural alternative to cemeteries or crematoria. There are no headstones at these types of burial sites; instead plots are marked by planting a tree or flowers, or sometimes left completely unmarked.

Some people also try to make the wake gathering as eco-friendly as possible, choosing locally-sourced food and requesting that guests share lifts to and from the venue rather than travelling individually. Asking for charitable donations instead of flowers is another way to ensure that your send-off is that little bit greener.

Eco funerals are becoming more popular all over the world. India is exploring solar-powered crematoria to help save the millions of tonnes of wood burnt each year cremating its dead, whilst research in Sweden is looking at the possibility of freeze drying with liquid nitrogen.

The growth in eco funerals will undoubtedly continue as we all try to find new ways to reduce the environmental impact of our lives and legacies. If you would like a funeral that celebrates your life in a unique way without harming the environment, we can help with a range of options.

For more information on eco-friendly funerals please call us on 01782 313542 or email

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