Our Journal

Green burial, human composting; sustainable end of life options in Australia

Tomorrow Funerals is a modern funeral home specialising in cremations and memorials. We focus on offering the most sustainable options, currently available, to our families in Melbourne and Sydney – all within our simple, comprehensive package.

What is a green burial?

A green burial, sometimes also referred to as natural burial or eco-friendly burial, is the practise of minimising the environmental impact of traditional burial. Allowing a body to decompose naturally and return to the earth, a green burial involves burying the body directly, without the use of a traditional casket or embalming fluids.

What is the difference between a green burial & a green death?

Green burial and green death are both terms for applying eco-friendly options in the management of handling human remains. It is important to note that green burials are not yet widely available in Australia and regulations surrounding burial practices can vary depending on the state or territory.

What are the most sustainable green death options available?

Ultimately in Australia (in 2023,) the options for handling human remains end up being either cremation or burial and there are pros and cons for each. For example, the cremation process can be energy-intensive and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, whilst traditional burial has a negative impact on the environment in terms of land use. Burial takes up a significant amount of land which can be a scarce resource in urban areas. Also, the use of chemicals, such as formaldehyde (used in preparing a body for burial) can be harmful to the environment and to the people who handle the chemicals. And finally burial can contribute to groundwater contamination.

Currently, in Australia, we believe the most widely available, sustainable choice for a green death is a cremation using a biodegradable coffin or casket (for example a Daisybox cardboard coffin.) Crematoriums do not accept bodies unless they are contained in a box, casket or coffin.

You can also minimise impact to the environment by considering ways to scatter ashes in a more sustainable manner. Or ask funeral guests to donate a favourite green charity in lieu of flowers.

Overall, each option has advantages and disadvantages, and choosing between them depends on personal beliefs, values, and priorities. It is important to consider the environmental impact of each option and explore the available options in your area to make an informed decision. As more people become aware of the environmental impacts, the demand for green burials is likely to increase.

At Tomorrow Funerals where we specialise in cremations and memorials, we’ve made the decision to use Daisybox cardboard coffins for all our bookings. This ensures we’re using the most sustainable practises available. It also means families are not brought into a funeral home and ‘sold’ (or ‘up-sold’) an expensive coffin.

What is human composting and is it available in Victoria?

Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction or recompositing, is a relatively new process for managing the remains of a deceased person. It involves placing the body in a container with organic materials, such as wood chips, and allowing natural microbial processes to break down the body over several weeks to several months, turning it into nutrient-rich soil.

Currently, human composting is not available in Victoria or anywhere else in Australia, as the process is not yet legal in the country. Interestingly, in 2019, Washington in the United States became the first state in the to legalise human composting, and other states and countries are considering following suit.

Proponents of human composting argue that it is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burial or cremation, as it does not involve the use of non-biodegradable materials or energy-intensive processes. Additionally, the resulting soil can be used for a variety of purposes, such as planting a tree or garden.

However, human composting is still a relatively new and untested process, and there are concerns about hygiene, safety, and cultural acceptance. As such, we believe governments and regulators will need to consider carefully the potential benefits and risks of human composting before legalising it.

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