Being green in funeral service is a natural consequence of today's American eco-consciousness. Consumer lifestyles and values, whether environmental, spiritual, philosophical or conservation oriented, are reflected in consumer attitudes toward products and services in the market and affect decision making. This includes attitudes toward death and funerals. Green funeral choices are expected to grow in popularity in the U.S. as this eco-consciousness grows.
As with the concept of "green" in general, green in funeral service means practicing environmental consciousness and being eco-friendly. It encompasses green funeral homes, green funerals, and natural burial. Today, funeral directors have the opportunity to adopt green practices to meet the needs of the families they serve.
A green funeral incorporates environmentally-friendly options in order to meet the needs of a family requesting a green service. Depending on a family's preferences, a green funeral can include any or all of the following: a small gathering in a natural setting, use of only recycled paper products, locally-grown organic flowers, carpooling, organic food, no embalming or embalming with formaldehyde-free products, the use of sustainable biodegradable clothing, shroud or casket, and natural or green burial.
In natural burial, the body is buried, without embalming, in a natural setting. Any shroud or casket that is used must be biodegradable, nontoxic, and of sustainable material. Traditional standing headstones are not permitted. Instead, flat rocks, plants or trees may serve as grave markers.