Local Policymakers, Local Religious Communities
In Ireland, most people bury their loved ones in a local authority or local parish cemetery. There are also some who bury on their own private land. There are many ways in which we can make the burial process greener:
– Natural burial grounds: Conventional graveyards are too often a sea of granite and marble headstones covered in concrete surrounds, with few green areas and no wildlife. Natural burial grounds are an alternative, where the land has a second use as a living native woodland and wildflower meadow. Headstones are replaced by a small simple grave marker and the planting of a native Irish tree for each of the buried. There are pathways and benches throughout, with wild flowers and wildlife in abundance, making it a much more peaceful and natural place for friends and relatives of the deceased to visit and reflect. When offered, these are very popular with almost 300 natural burial sites in the UK alone.
– Green Coffins: Typical coffins can be made using polluting materials and substances such as veneered chipboard, plywood, glues, varnishes and paints. Large amounts of metals (steel, bronze, copper), plastic and rare timber are also used in mainstream coffins. Natural, non-toxic, biodegradable, eco-friendly options such as willow, wicker, banana leaf, water hyacinth, recycled cardboard, calico, Irish pine, pandanus and rattan are now widely available and are often cheaper.
– Greener Embalming: The primary purpose of embalming is to delay decomposition long enough to allow the body to be viewed. Non-toxic and naturally derived embalming fluids (without formaldehyde or other bio-accumulating elements) can address concerns about ground contamination and the health of embalmers.
Woodbrook Natural Burial Ground, Killane, Co. Wexford
Green Coffins Ireland, St. Johnston, Co. Donegal
The Natural Death Centre, Winchester, England, UK