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How green is your end of life option?

View profile for Leah Woodnott
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How green is your end of life option?

I recently read an article by the National Geographic which outlined the environmental toll on the different types of funeral options – burial, cremation and burial at sea etc.

Cremations are on the rise due to baby boomers and the ever-adapting end of life options, which are making traditional burials less common. Unfortunately, it may be a shock to know that all end of life options have adverse effects on the environment, but there are ways you can choose to reduce your carbon footprint!


During the cremation process, toxic chemicals are released into the air and this contributes to the world’s air pollution.

One option to lower your carbon footprint would be to have your ashes turned into an eternal coral reef. This combines a cremation and burial at sea and means that your ashes will help marine life.


When a person is buried, they must be embalmed, and thousands of gallons of formaldehyde are put into the ground. Research has found that these chemicals can harm wildlife and can seep into our water supply.

Have you thought about an eco-burial to reduce your carbon footprint? You may want to consider woodland burial sites, biodegradable urns or tree pod burials which do not use the formaldehyde process.

Eco-friendly coffins are also available, which are usually made from substantial and renewable materials such as bamboo or willow. Most funeral companies offer eco-burials, moving away from the traditional wooden coffins as they can impact deforestation.

Burial at sea

If you choose to be buried at sea, your loved ones will have to obtain a licence for the burial from the Marine Management Organisation. There are three designated areas in the UK where this is currently allowed, Newhaven in East Sussex, the Needles in the Isle of Wight and Tynemouth in Northumberland.

On obtaining the licence, your coffin must be made of biodegradable materials in order to prevent water pollution. The Marine Management Organisation has the right to inspect the coffin to ensure that it is made from environmentally friendly materials.

Make your funeral wishes known

Whether you would prefer a burial or cremation etc., your funeral wishes can be included in your will, which will outline to your loved ones your preferred funeral choice. You can also choose to include in your will, details of where you would like to be buried or have your ashes scattered.

Your chosen executors will follow your wishes set out within your will and make the arrangements with the chosen funeral company.

If you would like to discuss reviewing your current will to include your funeral wishes, or make a new will to include this, then please contact one of our specialist Wills, Trusts and Probate lawyers. I am available for a free, no obligation 15 minute chat on 01206 217609 or alternatively please email me at