Do you remember the Doctor Who Green Death serial? First broadcast in 1973, it terrified the five-year-old me. Now I find myself scaring others by talking to them about my green death. I’d like to go the way I lived, with as little impact on the environment as I can manage.
Crematoria use gas (a finite resource and producer of air pollution), plastic/chipboard coffins may pollute land and water, burial grounds may pollute groundwater supplies, cut flowers may be grown with heavy use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides before being flown in from abroad.
I made a will last year (using Will Aid) and I’ve placed a document with my will which states:
I’d like my funeral to have a relatively low impact on the environment. Some ways to achieve this would include:
- Using an eco-friendly coffin, such as The Greenfield Biodegradable Coffin, currently sold by Brighton & Hove City Council for £107 (and using it as it is, without decorating it).
- Using a natural burial ground. I like the one at Clayton Wood http://www.claytonwood.co.uk/
- Not embalming my body.
- Not placing a memorial or headstone to mark my grave. (If you’d like a marker, perhaps you could plant a tree).
- Choosing whether to cremate my body and scatter the ashes at the burial ground, or bury it there, based on the latest advice as to which has the least detrimental environmental impact.
- Requesting mourners not to send flowers. Those who wish to might make a donation to one or more of the following charities: Friends of the Earth; the RSPB; Amnesty International; the Vegan Society; Oxfam; the RNID.
I’ve also told my family that I’ve done this.
I considered purchasing an eco-friendly coffin, and storing it in my loft, to save my relatives having to find one after I’ve died. I decided against because it would involve buying something that won’t be used for (I hope) a long time. Who knows, by the time I die, maybe there’ll be an even-more eco-friendly way to dispose of my remains.
While I was thinking these issues through, I talked about it with several friends, some of whose reactions surprised me. A few were horrified by the idea of me storing my coffin in the loft, finding it macabre, as though I were courting death itself. To me, it’s only a bit of cardboard: not as scary as bright green slime and giant maggots.
How do you feel about this issue? Have you made plans for a green burial? Would keeping a coffin in the loft freak you out?