Understanding Green Funerals
If you're in the position to plan a funeral for a loved one and you want to plan something that's environmentally friendly, you can organize a green funeral. The Green Burial Council is an agency that certifies funeral homes in New Jersey for being environmentally conscious when performing funeral services. New Jersey funeral homes don't need to be certified in order to offer green funerals. The certification is just extra assurance that the funeral being planned is environmentally friendly. Whether or not you use a green certified funeral home or not, there are a few things you should know about green funerals. Understanding the concept behind an environmentally friendly funeral is important to insure that the funeral you host takes the environment into consideration.
What Is a Green Funeral?
When something is considered green it means that it uses techniques or processes to reduce negative impacts on the environment. Since many funeral homes in New Jersey specialize in burials, the materials used for the coffin, the embalming process, and the actual burial must take into consideration the environment in order to be a green funeral. Many people who want green funerals believe that this is the proper way to return to the earth. Since bodies decompose, those that want to protect the environment feel that there should be little in the way of the body decomposing. The typical casket materials can prolong the time it takes for a body to decompose, so caskets should be bio-degradable and leech no dangerous chemicals into the ground.
Green burials are technically in sync with nature. This type of funeral also tries to preserve land in the U.S. by keeping the cemeteries free from anything that isn't environmentally friendly. There are New Jersey funeral homes that have Green Burial Council certification, so there should be green cemeteries available for use in the state.
What Are Green Cemeteries in New Jersey?
A green cemetery isn't referring to the color of the grass. If New Jersey funeral homes offer burials in green cemeteries, it means that the spot in which you bury a loved one is not contaminated with chemicals and allows nature to take its course. You won't find large memorial vaults, heavy gravestones, or large statues in a green cemetery. Instead you will see a large piece of land accented with native shrubs, trees, and flowers. Instead of a man made marker stone, the cemetery will use native plants or earth friendly marker stones that would occur naturally in the environment.
Embalming is not encouraged for a green burial. However, most funeral homes in New Jersey will require you to embalm the body if you will have a public viewing. You can bypass the embalming process by forfeiting a viewing, or having a very small, private viewing just for family. Many New Jersey funeral homes will allow a small number of family members to view the body one last time without it being embalmed.
The Benefits of a Green Funeral
Proponents of environmentally friendly funerals believe that if more funeral homes in New Jersey would promote green funerals, land could be restored and wildlife would have more places to roam. Green cemeteries do not use pesticides or herbicides to control growth, so these cemeteries can draw a large amount of animals that provide natural overgrowth prevention. It's also believed that with New Jersey funeral homes promoting green cemeteries, it protects the land for future generations.
The costs associated with a green burial may also be less than a traditional funeral service. While you can still use funeral homes in New Jersey to hold a memorial service, you will not need to invest in an expensive casket or other extra funeral accessories. If the local area allows it, and after speaking with New Jersey funeral homes and finding one that will work with you, a green burial may even allow you to host an at-home funeral. Funeral homes in New Jersey know the laws governing the funeral industry, so make sure you speak with a funeral director before planning an at-home funeral.
Choosing Environmentally Friendly Options
After researching green burials, you may feel that you want to use some of the things that help protect the environment but don't want a full-fledged green burial. That's ok. You don't have to go 100% in order to have an environmentally friendly funeral. While you're researching funeral homes in New Jersey, speak with them about which parts of the funeral service can be switched to be more environmentally friendly.
Maybe you can skip the public viewing, meaning that you won't have to worry about embalming the body. However, if that's a family tradition, consider renting a regular casket for the viewing and having the body buried in a biodegradable casket. Many New Jersey funeral homes rent viewing caskets for services. Don't be afraid to make your requests. Funeral homes in New Jersey are used to all sorts of inquiries, and most New Jersey funeral homes work hard to insure that they can provide you with the exact funeral you want for your loved one.