The final goodbye of a funeral is where we fully acknowledge that one person is leaving while the rest of us stay behind.
As we’ve moved away from traditional funerals and their religious heritage, we’ve developed new ways to mark that final farewell – but some of them are more sustainable than others.
What’s the harm in your well-intended release?
Balloon releases, butterfly releases and dove releases have become ways of marking the final goodbye with something that not only uplifts our spirits, but actually make us lift up our eyes and re-engage with the world around us.
Unfortunately, while they’re beautiful in the moment, they’re not good for the environment that delivers our food, water and air – nor for wildlife.
Experts from Balloons Blow point out that balloons create non-biodegradable litter – and when they deflate in water, they can also kill sea animals like whales and turtles. Even balloons misleadingly labelled “biodegradable latex” remain an environmental threat to sea life and sea habitat for years.
On top of that it’s not always known that helium is a limited, finite, non-recyclable resource – we have better things to do with it than dump it into the air we breathe with no hope of recovering it.
Other “nice ideas” that aren’t so nice
Things that look beautiful often have a hidden underside – from fox-fur stoles to conflict diamonds. So it’s worth considering what’s behind your 60 seconds “uplifting” release:
• Sky lanterns (Chinese paper lanterns) are fundamentally an unattended fire – they can start bushfires and grass fires, as well as causing serious burns in humans and animals.
• Many people consider that butterfly releases aren’t good for the environment – they rarely release natives to the local area, and intensive commercial breeding for a single release is prone to disease and parasites. If butterflies are important to your loved one, consider planting a butterfly-friendly tree or shrub.
• For those concerned with animal cruelty, dove releases have a similar range of associated ethical issues, from their breeding and keeping through to the ethics of their release. If you wouldn’t buy a kitten from a pet farm and dump it in the bush, investigate your supplier’s ethics carefully.
So what IS sustainable?
Our expert Funeral Directors and Funeral Arrangers have been finding sustainable final farewells for years and can help you create something special. A few possibilities for your final farewell could be:
• A single piper or vocalist to take people’s focus out to their environment.
• Flower releases in rivers or the ocean – with small quantities of native flowers.
• Ribbon dancers – for family members (especially children) to wave goodbye with.
• Flying Wish Paper – Write your farewells on these thin pieces of paper, roll them up, light them, and watch them rise. There is very little ash left and you have the uplifting, floating effect without the harm.
Find out more about uplifting, sustainable Life Celebration Funerals here.