What is a green funeral?

A Green "Eco Friendly" Funeral: What Is It and Why Choose One


Green funerals - sometimes referred to as woodland funerals or eco funerals - are an increasingly popular option.

They can be a suitable way to organise a low cost and environmentally friendly funeral for yourself or a loved one.

Green funerals are usually non-religious services that take place in natural burial grounds or designated woodland burial sites, and use eco-friendly biodegradable coffins - usually made from wicker, recycled paper or willow. They are not usually marked with a headstone, but with flowers or trees instead.

What is a green funeral?


A green funeral is widely considered to be the best option for the environment: one that produces less waste, involves no chemicals, and reduces the carbon emission.

Green funerals tend to have the following features:

Burial - not cremation A green funeral is usually a burial in natural grounds, and not a cremation. This is because cremations have a larger carbon footprint as they use considerable amounts of energy, so many believe they are not eco-friendly.
No embalming the body Green funerals do not tend to involve embalming the body, as the chemicals used may pollute the green burial spaces. The body is returned to the earth in a natural state.
Eco-friendly coffin Any coffins used in a green funeral will be biodegradable - usually made from wicker, cardboard, recycled paper, banana leaf or willow.
No headstone, but plants Instead of a headstone or memorial, many families choose to plant a tree or flowers in their loved one’s memory - a growing part of the natural world that they can revisit. Many green burial sites are designed to look as close to natural woodland as possible.



How do I plan a green funeral?


If you're considering a green funeral, it may be helpful to take a look at our free funeral planner. This helps you consider every aspect of your final wishes and includes helpful information about the choices available for an eco funeral. 

Start Your Free Funeral Plan Now

When planning a green funeral, you may want to consider the following things:

Eco-Friendly Coffin

As mentioned, a coffin for a green funeral will be biodegradable (wicker, cardboard, recycled paper, banana leaf or willow) - if you have a preference, you can specify the material in your funeral plan so that your loved ones can follow your wishes. The cardboard box doesn’t have to be a dowdy you can get all the family children to decorate it and the family can leave messages, poems and decorations for their loved one. The wicker basket could have flowers laced between the wicker or you could hang memories on the basket photos, favourite teddys and all sorts of lovely trinkets.

Green Eco Burial


Green/eco burials burial is the interment of the body in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition but allows the body to be naturally recycled. Green/eco burials involve the use of biodegradable coffins and a grave depth of three feet. Having a three feet grave depth allows for the body to be where the nutrient rich soil is, which is the perfect soil to decompose the body and put it to use. In a green/eco burial bodies are not embalmed which limits the pollutants going into the soil. Many of those who opt for eco/green burials choose to have a natural memorial such as having a tree planted in their memory. 

There are over 260 natural burial grounds for green funerals across the UK, including protected forests, meadows and parkland. If you’re considering a green funeral, your local funeral director can advise on the best options and locations for a green burial. 

You are able to specify the woodland or parkland you would like to be buried in your The Farewell Guide funeral plan.  

Tree or flowers

Many burial grounds will allow you to plant a tree or flowers in a loved one’s memory - so this might be something you would like to include in your funeral plan. You might decide you would like your loved ones to plant your favourite flowers in your memory, or the tree you had in your childhood garden. The burial ground you choose can also advise on what can be planted there.

You can plan a green funeral with The Farewell Guide Funeral Planner - get started on your own plan, or a plan for a loved one, today.

How much does a green funeral cost?


Green funeral costs can vary between the hundreds and thousands - but are, generally speaking, much cheaper than cremation or traditional burial.

This is because the coffins are made from cheaper material - like recycled paper or cardboard - and headstones or memorials are not often used (these tend to be the most expensive components of a funeral send-off).

In addition to buying the woodland burial plot, you may also need to pay a gravedigging fee - but this can differ between burial grounds. You may want to factor in the costs of the tree you might wish to plant, too.

Whatever your wishes, you can make it perfect by building a free funeral plan for you and your loved ones. Your Farewell. Your way.

Is a green funeral a humanist funeral?


Many people consider green funerals to be closely aligned with humanist funerals as they tend to be non-religious services. Humanist funerals are similar to green funerals in that they do not tend to include hymns or prayers, although they can involve readings from loved ones.

However, although some humanist funerals take place in woodland burial grounds, others involve cremation - which tends not to be the case for green funerals.

Which is more ecofriendly: burial or cremation?


It is said that the average cremation is equivalent to a 500 mile car journey, and that it releases around 400kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However there are ways cremations can be made greener such as with the use of a biodegradable urn and having a natural memorial.  

The standard burial is more ecofriendly than a standard cremation. Burials can be made even more ecofriendly for example by using a biodegradable coffin, having a living memorial or choosing not to embalm.  

What is the most environmentaly friendly funeral?


As mentioned above, burials are more environmentally friendly than cremations. A green/eco burial is the most environmentally friendly type of funeral. There are many factors to why this is so, a main factor is  the lack of unnatural products (such as a traditional coffin) slowing down the natural decomposition process, natural burial allows the body to return to and fertilize the soil as quickly as possible. 

Is a green funeral right for me or my loved one?


A green funeral may be right for you or your loved ones if you would prefer a funeral that is environmentally conscious, a service focused on nature, or a non-religious service - or all three.

Many people also opt for green funerals as they like the idea that a body returns to the earth and the idea of planting a tree or flowers in their loved one’s memory.

It is also worth considering that a green funeral takes place in burial grounds that are designed to look as much like natural woodland as possible - so your loved one’s exact burial site may not be easy to revisit. Many people choose to think of the whole of the green space as a memorial. It can be an important factor to consider, if you would like a specific place to visit.

Interested in planning a green funeral?

Start your eco funeral plan with The Farewell Guide today