What You Should Know About Biodegradable Cremation Urns

By Liz Mathers

Photograph by David Lebach

Photograph by David Lebach

Biodegradable urns: supporting green ceremonies

Biodegradable cremation urns are becoming widely available for those who want to help preserve the environment. A green alternative to traditional funeral caskets, biodegradable urns are crafted to disintegrate or dissolve over a period of time. Green ceremonies are a wonderful way to memorialize and honor a loved one and using a biodegradable urn allows you to hold that ceremony either on land or in a body of water without harm to our environment. 

A move towards biodegradable products

The environmental movement for sustainable living has existed since the early 20th century. In 1999 the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) Certification Program was created in order to establish the credibility of a product that was claimed to biodegrade. This certification program encompassed a wide variety of products, including cremation urns. BPI also strives to educate business owners and manufacturers on the importance of sustainable products. By confirming that these urns will not do harm to the earth or wildlife, purchasers of biodegradable urns can feel comfortable they are keeping our environment protected.

There are numerous benefits for planning an eco-friendly ceremony: the cremated remains give back minerals and nutrients to the earth, no wildlife is harmed by the cremated ashes, the amount of space used is drastically reduced compared to a traditional casket burial. Since biodegradable urns are made and tested to disintegrate when placed in water or buried in the earth they can alternatively keep ashes safe for a long period of time when kept at home and not buried or submerged in water.

The making of biodegradable urns

Many biodegradable urns are hand-crafted or hand-carved with great care and skill, making each one unique. The hand-crafted urn designs allows for a variety of patterns and naturally derived colors to be put on display. Alternative earth friendly memorials can come in the form of artificial reefs that house the ashes of your loved one in a concrete ball that helps protect the coral reefs from destruction.

The sustainable materials needed to create biodegradable urns can be found anywhere in nature with relative ease and don’t require using up scarce resources. The materials are also carefully selected to prevent further destruction. For example, many wooden urns are crafted from trees that have already fallen over. They can be made from plant based materials, recycled paper, mulberry bark paper, wood, sand, marble, Himalayan rock salt, and stone.

Biodegradable urns come in an amazing variety of shapes, such as acornssea shells, and a variety of sizes that range from infants to adults. The paint used is non-toxic and milk based, which adds a vibrant color to the urn. Any dyes, used on recycled or mulberry paper, come from natural sources like clay or colorful plants.

Biodegradable urns - great for travel

Biodegradable cremation urns are also optimal for travel since they are lightweight and able to pass through an airport x-rays with ease. Many of these urns do not contain any plastic of metal parts that would set off any alarms. Some urns even come with carrying cases for an added layer of protection while you are travelling and can be brought on as carry-on luggage. Whether you are travelling to a destination for burial or scattering, remember that the urn should be securely sealed.

So, whatever the reason you decide to hold a green funeral for your loved one, know that you are making an important contribution to the protection and care of our earth's environment when choosing a biodegradable cremation urn. 

Liz Mathers is a writer who helps produce and maintain the OneWorld Memorials website. 


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