Natural woodland burial ground with wild flowers.

Eco-friendly funerals

We’ve seen an increase in environmentally friendly funerals, known as green funerals or eco funerals. The options for eco-friendly funerals and natural burials means there's more choice when personalising an environmentally friendly funeral service.

What makes an eco-friendly funeral?

An eco-friendly funeral is a popular alternative to traditional burials and funeral services. Eco funerals use less harmful or wasteful materials for the preparation of the body and during the burial process.

Not only does this type of funeral have less impact on the environment but it also offers a more natural outdoor setting for the memorial service.

Three eco-friendly funeral options

  • A natural or green burial in a memorial ground or cemetery
  • A natural or green burial in a woodland
  • A natural or green burial in your home or private land

What are green burials?

Green burials, also known as natural burials, are eco-friendly burials which have as little impact on the environment as possible.

The body can be buried in a biodegradable coffin made of natural materials, or it may be wrapped in a simple shroud instead. With green burials, embalming isn’t permitted, due to the chemicals that are used in the process.

At a green burial, the body is committed to the ground with a small service of your choice. In some burial grounds, you may be allowed to have a simple, biodegradable memorial placed in the location of the body. However, some green-funeral locations may not allow a memorial of any kind, in order to leave no trace on the land.

Woodland burial grounds

Woodland burial plots are set amongst trees and wildflowers, providing a pleasant setting for families to bury their loved ones. It's also possible to bury or scatter the cremated ashes of a loved one within woodland burial grounds.

Why choose an eco funeral or green burial?

People are becoming more aware of and concerned about their impact on the environment. Some people choose to have eco funerals, as they care about their environmental impact in life, and want to do the same after their death.

A natural burial returns a body to the earth in as natural a way as possible. This generally takes place in green spaces, such as wildflower meadows, protected woodland and parkland, which can be more pleasant locations to commemorate a loved one.

Green funerals are also a lot more flexible when it comes to the service or memorial. You may wish to choose a green funeral in order to have a simple, personalised service which focuses more on stories of your loved one in a scenic location.

Is cremation eco-friendly?

With eco-friendly or natural cremations, no harmful chemicals are used in the embalming process before cremation. There's also less waste when no casket or burial ground is required.

However, whilst cremation has less impact than a traditional burial, it still has a significant carbon footprint as cremations use considerable amounts of energy. For that reason, many believe the cremation is not as eco-friendly as a green burial.

What is the greenest way to be buried?

Here are some tips for having a greener funeral:

Choose a natural burial over a cremation

  • Don't embalm the body
  • Use a shroud or a biodegradable casket over a traditional coffin
  • Bury the body in a green cemetery or natural burial site
  • Hold a smaller service at the burial, minimising travel where possible
  • Instead of a headstone or memorial, you could plant a tree in their memory

Are eco funerals cheaper?

Due to the simplicity of eco funerals, they can work out cheaper than traditional funeral services.

You still need to buy a burial plot for a green burial, which can vary in price depending on the location. There's also the cost of the eco friendly funeral caskets, which depends on the materials chosen.

One of the benefits of an eco funeral is you can choose more minimalist options, which can lower the cost.

How much do green funerals cost?

The cost of a green burial can be anything from a few hundred pounds up to a thousand, depending on the area that you choose for your plot.

Speak to your local funeral director about planning a green funeral.

Where can I have an eco funeral?

Green burials and eco funerals typically take place in an established woodland or natural burial ground. Speak to your local funeral director about planning one locally and they can give you your options.

Graves are marked by the planting of a natural memorial, such as a tree and the placing of a simple wooden or bronze plaque instead of a traditional headstone. And our range of coffins include bamboo, banana leaf or cardboard as well as more conventional biodegradable options.

At Co-op Funeralcare, we’re here to help you arrange a funeral exactly the way you want it, whenever you need us. If you'd like to speak with us about eco-friendly funerals or funeral plans, please contact your local funeral home.

A green way to say goodbye

We're really proud to be a carbon neutral business and now we're looking to the future to see what more we can do to provide green alternatives for bereaved families and reduce our carbon emissions even more.

Say a special goodbye with our premium electric hearse

We're launching three fully electric hearses into our existing fleet of ceremonial vehicles for those who'd like to reduce the carbon footprint of their final journey.

Adapted from the Tesla ‘Model S’® and Nissan ‘Leaf’® road car equivalents, the hearses’ exterior structures are made from recycled composite materials further enhancing their sustainability credentials.

A tree for every funeral

As part of our campaign to fight climate change, our colleagues in Crewe, Macclesfield and Bristol are trialling a plant-a-tree initiative as part of Ecosia’s global programme. For every funeral we arrange in these areas, Ecosia will plant a tree in a place it's needed most.

Greener products and services

We're starting to introduce alternative products, such as urns made from biodegradable materials. These can be kept in your home or can be buried within the ground, giving more choice for those who choose a natural burial.

We're also working with crematoria to see how they can be more eco friendly, such as reusing energy from cremations to heat their buildings, and allowing services to be held outside.

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