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What is considered to be a green funeral? There are differing opinions on this. The bereaved may sometimes choose a wicker coffin instead of a traditional wood coffin in the belief that it is more environmentally friendly. The irony is that in many cases, the funeral is a cremation which is not an environmentally friendly process. Whether the cremated coffin is wood or wicker, the end result is very much the same – the coffin is burned along with the body.

A true green funeral involves a woodland burial. Embalming should be avoided to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals. The deceased may be buried in a special biodegradable coffin or a shroud. If a wood coffin is used then the handles are expected to be wood instead of plastic and the coffin should not be varnished. Any use of plastic linings should also be avoided and the name plate should be made of a biodegradable material too.

It may not be possible to mark the grave in a woodland burial because the intention is that the land should be returned to its natural state. One suggestion may be to plant a tree instead of a traditional stone memorial.

A new concept that is gaining popularity is water resomation, otherwise known as water cremation. This is a process where the decomposition of the body is speeded up and completed in a few short hours using water and alkalis. The “ashes” are returned to the family and the by products of such a process are non hazardous and can be safely disposed of in the public sewer system.

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