Planning an Eco-Friendly Funeral

Man with glasses composting old vegetables at his vegetable garden

The conversation around the world today seems to be more and more focused on the environment. There are plenty of ways we can reduce our carbon footprint. However, there’s one way that you may not have been aware of.

Don’t worry, we aren’t here to make your life more stressful. There is no right or wrong when it comes to a funeral, it really is up to your personal preference.

You might be surprised to know that there are some benefits to going for an eco-friendly funeral. In this article, we’ll go through some of the steps to planning an eco-friendlier send-off.

How can a funeral be bad for the environment?

This may have been the first question that popped into your head when you saw the title of this article. Here are two main ways in which it can negatively affect the environment:

  1. There are a lot of very harmful chemicals used in the preservation process. These chemicals are used to postpone the appearance of death. What happens once the body is buried can damage the environment. The formaldehyde-based chemicals used can poison the earth around the body.
  2. The other main way is in the materials used for the casket. Often the materials used can emit a lot of carbon being sourced or be hard to replace once sourced.

What about cremation?

When it comes to the disposition of a body an increasingly more common option is cremation. If you aren't familiar with the process of cremation our article that compares cremation and burial can help you out.

As a result of the lack of chemicals used, you might imagine that cremation is more friendly for the environment. Unfortunately, it might not be as positive as you might think. The amount of carbon produced in cremation can be high. It is equivalent to a 500-mile car trip and releases not only 400 kilos of carbon dioxide, but it also releases mercury vapour and other pollutants.

What are some alternatives?

The good news is that there are plenty of options. As a result of a growing consciousness around the environment, there are some simple ways to help make your funeral more eco-friendly.

The important thing to remember is that when it comes to a funeral there is no right or wrong option. It’s about whatever you feel is right is right for you.

A simple way to reduce the impact of your funeral is by choosing a coffin or casket that’s kinder to the environment. Using recycled materials can often be eco-friendlier than traditional mahogany or metal. While wood might be biodegradable, the trees may be difficult to replace.

An alternative to using the chemicals involved with burial is by refrigerating the body. As mentioned above the chemicals are used to slow down the appearance of death. However, if the body is refrigerated in the lead up to burial it can serve the same purpose.

Things to consider when arranging an eco-friendly funeral

  1. Opting for no chemicals - As mentioned above some of the chemicals used in embalming can be harmful to the environment. If you choose refrigeration over the chemicals, you can do your bit to save the environment.
  2. Water cremation over regular cremation - Resomation is a more modern version of cremation that has less impact on the environment. If you’re set on cremation but want to keep it eco-friendly, this is one possible option.
  3. Choose a natural material for your coffin - Materials like cardboard, willow, rattan, or bamboo can all be better for the environment. It may not be the same as a gilded wood coffin, but future generations will thank you.
  4. Choose a natural burial spot - Rather than going with a place appointed by your local council explore the option of a natural woodland burial. You can find a list here but it’s important to speak with a funeral director.
  5. Minimise your carbon emissions on the day - Rather than going with a private car service, carpooling can be a great option for reducing a carbon footprint. Not to mention other smaller tips like using recyclable materials for a wake.
  6. Stay up-to-date - One of the most important aspects of planning an eco-friendly funeral is to stay informed. Things are changing all the time so it’s vital to stay in the loop. Our 2023 funeral cost report looks at funeral costs and planning in recent years.

Start exploring your options today

There are certainly plenty of options when it comes to planning an eco-friendly send-off. No matter what kind of funeral you’re looking at, it's important to start thinking about planning. Whether this is by being financially prepared or just making sure that your wishes are fulfilled.

With British Seniors, purchasing a life insurance policy could help you get financially prepared, but you can also get your final wishes in place. If you decide to choose us as your insurance provider, you could also get up to £535 of free extras which includes a £135 Gift Card, a Will Kit worth £100 and a Funeral Benefit Option that will pay £300 towards the cost of your funeral.1

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£135 Gift Card, for new policy holders only, after six successful monthly payments and once your total premiums paid exceeds the value of your Gift Card. Restrictions apply, see View full terms and conditions here.


If you choose an unattended cremation, please note that the £300 contribution will not apply. An unattended cremation means any cremation where there is no funeral service, funeral procession (or other services such as family viewing, limousine(s), embalming or delivery of ashes). The cremation is arranged at a crematorium at a date and time chosen by the allocated funeral director and without anyone attending other than the funeral director’s staff.