It is common knowledge that traditional burials are becoming increasingly environmentally harmful. Toxic chemicals used in embalming, lacquered wooden caskets buried beneath the ground, polished stone, and marble tombstones permanently altering the landscape are all things that cause extensive and lasting damage to surrounding ecosystems.
But there are alternatives. Natural, or green burial, which seeks to mitigate the environmental impact of death, has recently been growing in popularity.
Green Burial (Driffield Cemetery)
An area of Driffield Cemetery, Bridlington Road, Driffield is used for green burials.
This eco-friendly burial practice involves an area having a natural appearance with no memorials marking individual graves.
The identified area is secluded and separated from the rest of the cemetery by a stand of trees. These will remain in place. At a later date the area beneath the trees will be planted with bluebells as a form of memorial available to families.
What Are Green Burials?
Green Burials are a sustainable burial option with a minimal environmental impact.
There are two different types of Green Burials Meadow and Woodland. Meadow sites, like the one in Driffield Cemetery, are left as semi-tallow land, allowing tor self-seeded plants and creating a haven for wildlife. Woodland sites allow tor a tree to be planted over each grave.
The Green Burial site in Driffield Cemetery will be a scenic place of reflection, filled with local plants and wildlife.
History of Green Burials
The first UK Green Burial site was opened in Carlisle Cemetery, Carlisle in 1994. This is a woodland site and will become a red squirrel reserve once full. There are now over 200 Green Burial sites across the UK.
The Green Burial site in Driffield Cemetery is the first such site in the East Riding of Yorkshire. For further information on Green Burials visit www.naturaldeath.org.uk
Arranging a Green Burial
Green burials can be arranged in the same way as standard burials. These are done either through Hannah Rose Funeral Services or directly with the Burial Authority.
A plot in the green burial section can be pre-purchased. For operational reasons, the pre-purchased plot will be the next one in sequence.
Green burial plots are for one interment only.
Coffins for Green Burials should be made of bio-degradable substances. This can be untreated wood, wicker, bamboo, papier máchë or cardboard. The interior of the coffin should not contain plastic materials. Hannah Rose Funeral services offer a selection of coffin types. Homemade coffins of a suitable material are also allowed. All coffins should be agreed by the Cemeteries Administration office prior to the burial taking place.
To reduce the environmental impact even further, embalming should not be carried out. Metal fittings and clothing items should also be replaced with bio-degradable ones.
Green Burials do not allow headstones or memorials to be placed on an individual grave. An acceptable memorial tree or a wooden memorial plaque at the head of the grave would be permitted.
Memorial benches can also be purchased and located as near to the green burial area as possible, a wooden memorial plaque could also be fitted onto the memorial bench, with a personal dedication.
Further information on memorial trees, benches and wooden plaque placement can be obtained from the cemeteries office.
How Can the Family Be Involved?
As with any funeral, family and friends can be involved as much or as little as they wish.
A Funeral Director does not have to be involved. Occasionally, the family themselves choose to arrange as much of the burial as possible and cemeteries staff will ensure clear guidance on procedures is provided.
The family are allowed a token participation in the filling of the grave, but for health and safety reasons, the majority of this process is performed by cemetery staff after the family have left the grave side.
What are the Environmental Benefits of a Green Burial?
Formal cemeteries have a single use. Over time a full cemetery is visited by less and less people and can often fall into disrepair.
Green burials allow for cemeteries to have other uses than that of a standard burial ground. They encourage wildlife and provide a peaceful public space for reflection for years to come.