If your loved one lived their life as a passionate 'friend of the world' and tried to be eco-friendly every step of the way, a biodegradable casket may not be enough to fulfil their 'green' legacy. Beyond coffins made from sustainable materials and other common ideas like donations instead of flowers, it can be hard to think of ways to improve the environmental friendliness of a funeral without losing out on the overall tradition of the ceremony. If you're stuck for ideas, here are 3 often overlooked ways to make your loved one's funeral greener.
Before the Ceremony: A Walking Cortege
The funeral cortege, also known as the procession, is one of the most well-known aspects of the traditional funeral ceremony. The procession is usually led by a hearse carrying the body of the departed, while those who will be attending the funeral following behind in their cars. While this is a lovely symbolic gesture, these cars will unsurprisingly output a large amount of CO2 -- something your eco-friendly loved one would likely detest. Instead of a vehicular procession, consider a walking cortege if the distance is short enough. A hearse can still lead the procession (though it may be possible for the pallbearers to carry the casket to the ceremony if they're physically able), but in a walking procession the funeral-goers will follow behind on foot. This is the most environmentally friendly way of organising a cortege, but if it doesn't work for your community, consider reducing the number of cars in the traditional procession by encouraging carpooling. Every car removed from the road equals less harmful carbon emissions in the atmosphere.
During the Ceremony: Recycled Order of Service
The order of service is an important part of most traditional services. It helps keep the ceremony organised, which is particularly useful given that many of the attendees will be feeling emotional and mentally disorganised. It also provides a nice momento for the loved ones of the departed, who will often display the order of service in their home as a reminder of the person they lost. Of course, many people who will attend your loved one's funeral will not keep their order of service -- at some point, it will end up in a waste receptacle, and eventually go to landfill. If you want to honour your family or friend's pledge to green living, why not opt for an order of service made from recycled paper? At the end of the ceremony, provide a box where those who do not wish to keep the order of service can deposit it. You can then take this box to a recycling centre to make sure the paper is reused and doesn't contribute to environmental harm.
After the Ceremony: Organic, Vegetarian Catering
If you're holding a wake or luncheon after your loved one's funeral, consider opting for organic, vegetarian or vegan catering. The production of meat, fish, and even dairy products can be incredibly taxing to the eco-system. Even if your loved one did not keep a vegetarian diet in life, green catering is a great way to honour their environmentally considerate lifestyle now they're departed. Refreshments made from fruits, vegetables, bread, pasta, and rice can still be just as delicious as non-vegetarian alternatives. It's also a good idea to make sure your caterer is using organic, local produce, as this food doesn't cause as much harm to wildlife and foliage or contribute to as much carbon emission. For extra eco-friendliness, consider opting for a sit-down meal instead of a buffet to reduce food waste, or make arrangements to donate leftovers to those in need.