In a world where considering how our actions affect the planet has become normal for almost everyone, it only makes sense that we also reconsider how we are laid to rest. There are various options available for those that wish to have a green or eco-friendly funeral that can go a great way towards lowering your carbon footprint.

Why would you want to have a green funeral?

Thinking and talking about what type of burial you would want one day does not seem like the most pleasant of conversations. However, it is an important one to have and if your family knows what you would have wanted, it makes it easier for them when the time comes to organise it.

There are as many reasons that someone would want a specific type of funeral as there are people, but we can say, that having a green funeral could be in keeping with how someone lived their life. If you have always been very eco-conscious and you wish that to still be the case even in death, specifying a green funeral to your loved ones or in your will makes sense.

Another reason that some people might opt for a green funeral is because of costs. Depending on the extent to which you have a green funeral, it could greatly cut down on the costs of a funeral.

How green is green?

A green funeral is not just one type of funeral service. It might be that the funeral has some traditional elements and some green elements. The funeral might be friendlier towards nature by using a green coffin rather than the traditional wood with metal or plastic handles, but that in and of itself is not completely eco-friendly just yet. So, what are your options for a green funeral?


If you decide to limit the size of the funeral, you will already limit the amount of carbon emission caused by people travelling to and from the service. You could also make a special request that mourners share transport.


Traditional coffins or caskets are made of wood with metal or plastic handles. Today, we have greener options available with coffins made of natural woven fibres like seagrass, loom, and cocostick. These caskets are made to be eco-friendly and degrade in a friendly way while still being respectable for a funeral.

Some people wish to take it a step further and not be buried in a casket at all. To be fully eco-friendly, it is possible to just be wrapped in a shroud made of biodegradable material like cotton.

Forgo embalming

The embalming of the deceased is typically done for the preservation and presentation of the deceased, especially if there is to be a visitation or viewing of the body or repatriation. It also gives the family a bit more time to organise the funeral. It is not, however, a necessity and the embalming fluid, usually formaldehyde-based chemicals, can be toxic and harmful to the environment. For a truly green funeral, embalming is thus often forgone. The body can be kept cold to help slow down decomposition, but burial or cremation will have to happen fairly quickly.

Natural grave markers

It is traditional to use a headstone of stone or granite to mark the location of a grave. For a green funeral, you might rather opt for flat rock or natural stones or even plant a specific tree or shrub that will mark the grave. Municipal bylaws are to be adhered to.


Aquamation has become one of the most eco-friendly alternatives to burial or cremation. This process consists of an alkaline hydrolysis process where heat, pressure, and highly alkaline water are used to reduce the body to its basic elements. The result is a sterile liquid and remaining bone minerals that can be processed to a powder. Aquamation, unlike cremation, doesn’t directly emit any greenhouse gasses or mercury and burns almost no fossil fuels.

Final thoughts

There are various options available to people that wish to have or organise an eco-friendly funeral. In addition to the normal green considerations, like using recycled paper for programmes, there are important decisions to make about how the body is treated after death. That is why is it so important to plan this before you die and communicate your wishes with your loved ones. Having a Life File helps you organise everything your loved ones will need upon your death. When you prepare a Life File, it also creates an opportunity to have the conversation with your nearest and dearest.

At Sonja Smith Elite Funeral Group, organising a funeral with dignity and respect that honours the deceased’s wishes is our goal. You can also get the format for your Life File on our website