Can Green Funerals Be Fun?

Image credit: Liz OConnell

It's funny how uptight people can get about death. Yet it's one of the very few things, along with birth, taxes, breathing etc, that we all have in common. For the green minded, there are plenty of more sustainable end of life options cropping up, from jute coffins to woodland burials. But beyond the material issues of burial, I think there is an argument for a cultural reconnection with, and reimagining of, death and dying—including, I would argue, a need to lighten up. That's why I was so pleased to hear from Jane Hillhouse, founder of the Final Footprint line of green burial products, who sent me this Oakland Tribune story about their Green Funeral Fair held as part of the Day of the Dead celebrations. Beyond simply encouraging people to use greener, less polluting materials for burial, the fair was organized to rekindle the idea of funerals as a celebration of life, as well as an opportunity to mourn the dead.

As Rose, a writer and book publisher from Oakland, told the paper: "You know, I've lived in America all my life and I've heard that other cultures don't have the same views about death and hiding death,"

I'm not arguing that green funerals are inherently jollier, more joyous or more meaningful than any other kind of funeral. I just think that the act of rethinking customs that might otherwise be taken for granted is always an opportunity for growth and rejuvenation. So let's take that opportunity and think beyond the obvious—beyond biodegradable coffins or a recycled funeral program, what would your ideal 'green' funeral look like?

(For inspiration, you can check out Lee Hays' plea to compost his corpse, and for more serious content, check out our guide on How to Green Your Funeral.)

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