Environmentally Friendly Death and Funeral Choices
Just as there has been an increase and acceptance of the principals of recycling, reuse and reduce in our day-to-day lives, eco-friendly funeral and death choices are gaining widespread support and acceptance in Australia and around the world.
Here are some of the ways in which you can help the environment when making funeral choices and arrangements.
Prepare a living will. In the event that medical resources are needed at the time of death, a living will outlines your wishes regarding life support and ensures that medical resources aren't spent needlessly when the time of death approaches.
Organ and Tissue Donation. The gift of a body organ or tissue can mean life or sight to the recipient. Organ donation is a very generous and caring gift that each of us are able to give. If you plan to donate organs or tissues when you die, let your loved ones know or indicate your choice on your driver's license or register with the Australian Organ Donation Register.
Body Donation Body donation is an alternative way to reuse the body. Scientific knowledge gained from the medical research is a generous gift to give future generations.
Do not embalm Embalming requires the use of chemicals which are harmful to our environment and health. Unless needed for repatriation purposes, embalming is not required.
Caskets and Coffins Simple wood or cardboard coffins are among the most environmentally friendly options for body containers. In addition to the environmental concerns about forest sustainability of more boutique timbers factors to consider include transportation and manufacturing emissions from glues and varnishes.
Cremation or burial. Less land and energy are required to inter cremated remains. In the past there were concerns about air pollution resulting from cremation but nowadays to cut down on emissions certain materials cannot be used for cremation and strict air pollution guidelines must be adhered to. There is a growing movement towards natural or green burial grounds but this option is currently not available in Australia due to laws which state that burials or cremations are not permitted without a sealed coffin or casket, except when religious institutions obtain exemption. More information on natural burials can be found at The Natural Death Centre.
Donations and flowers In lieu of flowers, some people choose to make donations to charities or organisations. Ideas can include:
- donating living plants for a local park or hospital
- books on the environment to your local school or community library
- donations to environmental groups
- scholarship fund for environmental causes
- supporting medical research or studies in a particular field
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