GRAVEYARDS are so last year.
People are now dying to be closer to nature, with greener alternatives to a traditional burial becoming more popular.
Woodland burials will be offered at Durham Crematorium in South Road, Durham City, from September 7, by a community interest company formed for the purpose.
Durham City Woodland Burial Project is using land at the lower end of the large crematorium site which will have space for more than 700 burials.
Families choosing to use the service can either combine it with a traditional funeral, or use a wooden lodge on the site for a brief humanist service before burial.
No stone memorials will be allowed, although families can have a wooden plaque set into the ground, which will biodegrade over time.
Each burial site will be marked with a microchip, enabling families to identify precisely where the remains of their loved ones lie.
“It won’t appeal to everyone,” said Professor Douglas Davies, of Durham University, who has co-written a book on the increasing interest in woodland burials.
“A child cannot say they want a woodland burial, but granny can.
“It’s about how we imagine ourselves after our death. If we think we remain in this world then we may want to choose an area in which we would like to be.”
A traditional funeral can cost up to £4,000, but a woodland burial in Durham will be about £1,200, partly because people will be encouraged to opt for coffins made of cheaper, biodegradable materials such as cardboard or wicker.
Company founder Ian Rutland said: “We are not aiming to cut out the funeral director, people choosing a woodland burial will still go through them.
“As a company, we don’t want to profit from death, so any profits we make will be invested in community projects.
“We may also be able to offer grants to families who cannot afford to pay for a traditional funeral.”
Details of the service are available by calling Ian on 07818 073 979, or from the company’s website: www.woodlandburialtrust.org.
A WEARSIDE company is also spearheading the green revolution in eco-friendly funerals.
Washington-based coffin maker JC Atkinson and Son Ltd specialises in traditional wood coffins with green credentials, to cater for a growing demand for eco-friendly funerals.
Managing director Julian Atkinson said making a profit at the same time as being green was not a problem.
His approach has seen the firm buck the country’s gloomy economic trend.
“People want to choose a coffin that is eco-friendly,” he said. “We are able to say, ‘You can have a traditional coffin and it is green’,”
The drive to be eco-friendly and ethical makes perfect business sense to Julian, who believes in setting an example both ecologically and ethically in business.
“If we don’t set an example in the Western developed world, how can we point the finger at developing countries like China and India?” he said.