When the end of a loved one’s life approaches, difficult decisions must be made. From choosing the right palliative and hospice care teams to selecting a body disposition plan, your priority is to make your loved one feel at ease in their final days. However, end-of-life care, when not performed with sustainability in mind, can produce a large amount of medical waste, travel costs, and other harsh emissions.
If you want your loved one to be remembered for their positive impact, there’s no better way to make their time on earth even more beautiful than by making eco-friendly choices that benefit the entire world. In this article, we’ll explore four ways you can choose revolutionary end-of-life care decisions to help your loved one make a measurable difference.
Choose Green Body Disposition Plan
Traditional body disposition plans can be incredibly harmful to the environment. Caskets and embalming spread toxic chemicals into the earth, while the cremation process creates pollutants that harm the atmosphere. However, there are plenty of sustainable ways to lay your loved one to rest that are rising in popularity. These alternative body disposition plans include:
While it can be difficult to think about burials while your loved one is still alive, taking this step can help you ensure they’re honored in a sustainable and respectful way. Work alongside them to develop a green burial plan, one step at a time.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint for Travel
As a caretaker or as a loved one who’s lending a helping hand, you need to travel to and from medical appointments on a regular basis. Even when you’re not headed to a medical office, you’re probably visiting your loved one frequently. While all the travel you do may be necessary and worth every second, it can take a huge toll on your carbon footprint.
If you want to reduce your carbon emissions while still checking off your travel responsibilities, consider investing in an eco-friendly vehicle or a car with high fuel efficiency. Getting a car warranty and taking your vehicle in for regular maintenance can greatly extend the life of your car, which leads to less waste.
When you’re not traveling with your patient, use more sustainable modes of transportation like light rail, biking, or even walking to reduce your footprint.
Opt for Aging in Place
Aging in place and home-based care are vital for making palliative care more comfortable for the patient while keeping in mind one’s carbon footprint. When your loved one can get the medical support they need right in your home (or their home), it eliminates much of the travel for both of you and prevents you from using excessive single-use medical supplies and energy in hospitals. Plus, it can be much more comfortable for your loved one to spend the final days of their life at home when you transition into hospice care.
However, if you’re caring for someone who is approaching the end of their life, it’s important to make sure your home truly accommodates their needs. Consider making DIY modifications to your home — like adding wheelchair ramps or grab bars for toilets — that allow them to be as independent or comfortable as possible. These additions can help your loved one live sustainably outside of a hospital or assisted living home.
Offer Sustainable End-of-Life Care
Caring for someone who is nearing the end of their life is always a difficult process. However, creating a plan together can help your loved one feel in control of their life path you can make their final days more meaningful.
End-of-life care also involves creating a burial plan. If you want to lay your loved one to rest respectfully and sustainably, consider options like casket-free and embalming-free burials that offer a special, sustainable way for your loved one to be remembered while avoiding releasing toxic chemicals into the earth. You can find more sustainable body disposition ideas on the Green Burial Council blog.
About the Author
Sam Bowman is freelance writer and environmental advocate who enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
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