So many of us are working so hard to begin and maintain a more sustainable life, yet very few of us have considered how environmentally unfriendly our death will be.
It’s not a nice topic, not even something most of us want to consider on our own, let alone discuss with others – and yet our choices at this difficult time can have a really positive impact on the planet. Whether you are working on a future plan of your own, or having to make decisions for a loved one, there are ways to continue your passion for ethical and environmentally positive choices at the end of life.
The bottom line is that ashes or burial both have a negative impact on the earth, they contain harmful chemicals in extremely high concentrations which mean the pH and sodium levels in the area make growth impossible. Roots of plants actively move away from such areas, if nothing will grow then native wildlife will also dwindle and so the impact continues outwards.
The choice of coffin is also important with cardboard or wicker being the best options for burial. There are so many areas to consider, plastic free floral arrangements and what to serve at the wake can allow us to have a positive influence. Many of us now have heard of green burials, and this is our area of expertise.
At the Woodland Burial Company, we do things a little differently from most other green offers. Our established woodland in Chesterfield was a commercial site, used to grow pine trees to make telegraph poles. We are restoring it to its proper mix of native trees, flora and fauna and of course wildlife. When people purchase their plot of land, for a burial or to scatter ashes, we create a bespoke area to meet their wishes. Added extras including benches, bat boxes, bird tables or hedgehog houses can be added, or some people choose to simply leave their nook untouched and let nature take its course.
Planting a tree will also offset the negative carbon impact of a cremation, we are committed to keeping our carbon offsetting for our families and will never sell it on to third parties.
The burial itself includes the addition of an organic compound which not only balances out the problems of toxicity but enhances the nutrition of the soil to encourage roots to grow. To learn more about this unique product and the international research behind it – have a read of www.rtnsoil.com.
As we restore Granville’s Wood, we have seen a huge increase in wildlife, walkers and native species. With every pine tree we take down to make a bench, a little more light can creep into the canopy and allow the many oaks to thrive. It is a long-term project, funded by the burials. The woodland is protected for 199 years and then moves into the care of the Woodland Burial Trust – so there is no danger that it will be bought or built on in the future.
We have a very small team, all of whom have a loved one of their own at Granville’s Wood, it means we can offer a very personal and caring service and those relationships continue as we meet and share; via our online community and in Granville’s Wood itself. Our manager has a professional background in mental health recovery and teaching on coping with grief. The team are able to support the families we meet, during such a difficult time, and treat them with great care. Experience tells us that being in a space that grows and evolves can be supportive to those grieving and we are proud of our contribution.
Many of our nooks are purchased by people thinking ahead, as the area is yours and you will never be charged again (no renewal or maintenance fees), people often create a very special and meaningful space that they can visit before it is needed, enjoying Granville’s Wood for years and adding wonderful memories.
The future is looking even greener! In 2020 we have plans to build a communal area and pond to support the natural drainage needs and encourage a wider mix of wildlife. We also have a large amount of hedging to plant to create some ‘super highways’ for the birds. Worksheets and other supportive documents are in development and our website is having a refresh. In 2021 we are hoping to expand and take on other established woodlands, to be managed and not manicured, allowing more people to make sustainable choices at the end of life – supporting areas of natural beauty for generations to come.
To find out more about what we do feel free to call us on 0115 939 9030 or visit the website at www.woodlandburialcompany.com. For those further afield who are interested in the environmental impact of burial and cremation, but not able to come and see us, Woodland Burial Company have shared their expertise and experience with a new start up offering the ‘magic soil’ for use at home. You can discover their products at www.livingmemorial.co.uk.
The Imperfect Blog
Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to have it all figured out in order to lead a sustainable lifestyle. In fact, it's better to make small conscious choices when possible, than none at all. We explore every topic under the sun around kindness to our environment, wildlife, other people and ourselves.