Reasons for the Rise of Green Funerals

ecofuneralsOn Sunday, the New York Times ran a prominent story on the rise of green funerals and baby boomer’s increasing desire for individualized, meaningful funerals.

The article’s main subject is Amy Cunningham, who is a funeral director at Greenwood Heights in Brooklyn, New York. Greenwood Heights prepares all kinds of funerals but it specializes in green funerals, which typically consists of a simple and natural burial in a biodegradable casket or shroud, or a cremation with the remains placed in an ecofriendly urn.

Green funerals can be less expensive than a traditional funeral and, in addition to environmental interests some are comforted by the idea of being naturally reunited with the earth and soil. Similarly with cremation, the term “ashes to ashes” means going back to the earth.

All of these are really important reasons but I think the overriding principle is that people want their sendoff to have meaning, to do good and to represent who they were.

Ms. Cunningham entered the funeral profession after she and her siblings planned “the most glorious memorial service” for their father, which included a jazz band. Though devastated by the loss, she articulated beautifully the reason for a personalized, meaningful farewell, in that she felt “elated about what we had built as a family.”