With a few simple choices it is possible for a funeral to be a dignified, peaceful ceremony in harmony with the environment. A green funeral is the natural choice.
Natural Endings was given the Green Funeral Directors of the Year Award in 2013, and almost ten years later we are still recognised nationally for our expertise in environmentally friendly funerals.
Our ability to help families to attain as green a funeral as possible is reflected throughout our personal and business practices, and we are one of the founder members of the Association of Green Funeral Directors.
The first decision that must be made in relation to any funeral, whether it is a green funeral or not, is ‘cremation or burial?’ Some people have a definite preference for one or the other. In late 2022 a third option of resomation, also know as ‘water burial’ will be available.
Cremation is still the most popular choice in the UK. Although most crematoriums have modernised their equipment to reduce emission a cremation still uses a lot of natural gas. We can advise on ways to keep the carbon footprint of a cremation down, and on cremated remains.
Also you can choose a coffin made from sustainable materials such as wool, bamboo, willow, FSC wood or cardboard. We can offset a cremation’s carbon emissions by donating to local tree planting charity Forus Tree.
An informed choice
We prioritise being informed about the most environmentally sustainable practices now and in the future, and endeavour to make this information available so that you can make an informed choice.
In 2023 we are hoping to be able to offer resomation, also known as ‘water cremation’, as an alternative to burial and cremation.
Natural or woodland burial is increasingly becoming the environmentally friendly choice and the obvious one for a green funeral. Natural Endings regularly works with eleven local natural/woodland burial sites. Please get in touch and we can advise you on the benefits of each.
Woodland/Natural burial grounds
The sites that we use vary a lot in character and price. Some are more like wildflower meadows, some mature woodland, some have views. Some grounds are privately owned or owned by nature charities. Others are areas in county council cemeteries.
Having a woodland burial helps to create a protected piece of woodland for future generations. The general principle is that a biodegradable coffin (cardboard, bamboo, seagrass, willow or sustainable wood) or shroud is used. At some of the sites a flat memorial engraved stone or wooden plaque is used to identify the grave. Sites are managed to encourage native wildlife, plants and wildflowers. Families that choose this kind of grave for their loved one find it soothing to be somewhere natural. It helps them to understand that their loss is a natural part of life and the planet’s life cycle.
We are regularly consulted for advice by new sites that are developing some land for use as a woodland burial ground.
Arranging a burial on your own land
Alternatively we can arrange a burial on your own land. Not many families choose this option. But if you do we have experience working with environment agencies to enable this.
“Thank you for suggesting the Remembrance Park. Going to visit Mum’s grave becomes a whole day out for the family now. Because of the lovely location we usually take a long walk through the woods after visiting her. The walks are very soothing to the spirit. Then we’ll have a nice meal at the pub or a cup of tea in the cemetery office. Mum would have loved it; it is a great comfort to us that she is in the perfect place.”
A requirement of all woodland or natural burial grounds is that a coffin or shroud is 100% biodegradable, and therefore do not contain plastic or metal.
Grave marking in woodland sites
Graves aren’t marked with vertical marble headstones as they are in traditional cemeteries. Graves are either left unmarked (though please be reassured that a burial location is logged on plans) or they have a small wooden marker or a horizontal flat engraved natural stone marker.
One of the advantages of these kinds of graves is that they don’t have to be maintained in the way that old style graves do. Many woodland and natural burial grounds discourage items being left on graves and they want only native trees and plants to be planted.
Most can’t allow a tree on each grave, as not all the trees would survive in close proximity to each other. The cemeteries that don’t allow a tree on the actual grave will have other areas where trees and shrubs can be dedicated to a loved one.
We do not feel it is necessary to embalm everyone that we have in our care. We only embalm if that is your express wish. For those choosing a woodland or natural burial we never use embalming.