Green Funerals: Should Your Firm Be Offering More Eco-Conscious Choices?

Posted October 5, 2016

5 min read

In simple terms, a green funeral is a service that does not use chemicals or pesticides. According to the Green Burial Council, a non-profit organization that works to encourage environmentally sustainable deathcare, a burial is “green” only when it furthers environmental and societal aims, “such as protecting worker health, reducing carbon emissions, conserving natural resources, and preserving habitat” (1).

We spoke to Adriana Corral, owner of Planting Legacies, about what funeral directors should know about the value of offering earth-friendly offerings to families. Corral’s business provides a wide variety of options to her local community, including self-sustaining programs and services to the bereaved and grieving populations.

Eco-Friendly Funerals: A Growing Trend?

An increasing number of people are becoming more eco-conscious today, as we can see reflected in their purchasing decisions. The NFDA says that whether it be environmental, spiritual, philosophical or conservation as the motivation, there has been an increase in the number of consumers who support eco-friendly products and services: “This includes attitudes toward death and funerals,” says the NFDA, saying that green funeral choices are expected to continue to grow in popularity alongside the growth of the eco-consciousness movement (2).

Corral says that typically when a family requests a natural burial, they are looking to have a service that won’t use formaldehyde or other products, such as concrete, that can normally be used in the burial process.

“They are often requesting a service that utilizes recyclable products that can return back to mother earth,” she adds. However, Corral says she defines a green funeral a bit differently than some families may.

“I consider a green funeral ‘natural’ when the deceased is buried without permanent products that will harm the environment, earth and surrounding land,” she explains.

While some families consider cremation to be green or eco-friendly, it depends on each individual’s own definition of “green.” In most cases, most funeral professionals (including herself) do not classify cremation as green.

According to the NDFA, eco-conscious options can include any of the following elements, depending on the directors/families viewpoints on “green”:

  • A gathering that takes place in a natural setting
  • No embalming (or embalming with no formaldehyde)
  • The use of sustainable, biodegradable clothing and/or a shroud and/or casket
  • The use of recyclable, non-toxic products only
  • The use of locally-grown and organic flowers
  • Organic food (2)

The Value of Offering More Eco-Conscious Choices

Corral encourages funeral professionals to be open-minded when it comes to offering eco-friendly options to families. “When serving families, I honor all wishes—modern or not,” she says.

“When I speak to families who are interested in green funerals I make the correlation of home funerals and green funerals. I explain to families that by selecting to have green burials they are benefiting the earth, land and future generations.”

When communicating with families about the available choices, the benefits include how green funerals can be personalized and they can also be family-directed. This also means loved ones can, in some cases, be very involved in the service. Other benefits can include being more connected to the community, nature, and the cost for families.

“This can also make loved ones change how they live when alive. I emphasize that to families so that they can have a better understanding of the strong relationship life and death have with one another.”

Corral says that while green funeral services may not be very common today, it is never too early to start offering eco-friendly choices to families who will greatly value these offerings. Corral says she feels funeral homes and funeral directors need to understand that the funeral industry is changing, and that families are demanding greater choice. If more people want green funerals—and they are better equipped to pay for these types of services, too—hopefully more and more funeral professionals will be open to the idea, says Corral.

Connect with Your Families & Your Community

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About Adriana Corral

Adriana Corral is founder of Planting Legacies, a community-based business South Florida, providing programs and service for the bereaved, along with providing assistance for the indigent. Adriana has a vision to lower the cost of dying in America and make sure that no one has to do without funeral and burial services due to financial limitations. She was recently approved for her 501(c)(3), starting a nonprofit, FAMILY FUNERAL ALLIANCE, whose mission is to undertake fair funerals one step at a time. The organization also focused on funeral poverty and fair funerals.

Corral worked in the non-profit arena for 15 years and then pursued training to become a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer, Certified Celebrant and Home Funeral Consultant, as well as a Certified Raw Foods Chef.



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