A Guide to Green Funerals & Natural Woodland Burials

Everything you need to know about eco-friendly funeral arrangements

Last updated: 20 August 2019

Green funerals (also known as natural burials or woodland burials) are a fairly new concept with a growing number of people choosing to have them.

What are green funerals?

Green funerals are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burials and cremations. They do not include cremation or embalming and are considered the most environmentally friendly funeral option.

The coffin is biodegradable, usually made out of recycled paper, wicker or willow, and is buried in a green burial site.

The graves are not marked with a headstone; instead they will be identified by a tree or flowers and often become indistinguishable from the woodland. Many of these green burial sites also have a map, so that the bereaved may visit the site of their loved one. Some sites do not have maps to individual graves, but the bereaved may consider the whole woodland as a memorial to their loved one.

If you would prefer to visit the exact location of your loved one’s final resting place, you may want to carefully consider if a green burial is the right choice for you and your family.


The key selling point for green burials is that they are more eco-friendly than other funerals, such as traditional burial or cremation.

Supporters of the method claim that traditional burials restrict the rate of decomposition and therefore the surrounding areas do not benefit from nutrients and minerals, as would happen in more natural circumstances.

Green burial sites are often unrecognisable compared to traditional cemeteries, as they are intended to look as close to a natural landscape as possible.


Eco coffins used in green burials are designed to easily decompose and environmentally friendly. They are usually made from:

  • Cardboard
  • Banana leaf
  • Wicker
  • Bamboo
  • Willow

You can also use a cotton shroud, but you are advised to discuss these needs with your funeral director.

Arranging a green funeral

If you want to arrange a green funeral for your loved one, you should talk to your funeral director about your preferences. They will be able to advise you on the green burial options available in your local area. Some funeral directors even specialise in providing eco-friendly funerals.

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