Written by Miranda Booher for the Green Burial Council. Read more about the author at the end of this article.
There comes a time in every pet owner’s life when you realize your furry friend doesn’t have much time left. They grow slower on their walks, develop age-related conditions, and don’t seem to enjoy life as much as they used to when they were a pup.
It’s difficult enough to process the grief of losing your pet. But then having to plan a funeral on top of that can feel like it’s too much to bear. To help ease the burden you’re carrying, we’ve put together a list of five green ways you can say a final goodbye to your dog while also being conscious of the environment.
1. Create a homemade nose print grave marker
Instead of purchasing a gravestone for your dog, think about creating a nose print grave marker at home. You can make one from mostly natural, sustainable materials and can be sure their final resting spot will never be forgotten. To make one, brush a small amount of eco- and pet-friendly paint onto their nose and gently press it against a large rock with a smooth surface. You can add extra details, such as their name and date of birth, with a paintbrush. You could even write a short poem on the back about how much they mean to you.
2. Use a biodegradable pet urn
If you’re burying your pet’s body, you can simply lay them to rest in their grave. Over time, they’ll naturally return to the earth without leaving anything behind. But if you’re cremating your dog, you might want to keep their ashes inside the urn.
Instead of burying the metal urn you received their ashes in, transfer them into a biodegradable urn so they still have the chance to return back to the soil. While most metal urns never decompose, a biodegradable urn will break down in several years, allowing an eco-friendly burial.
3. Choose an eco-friendly pet cemetery
Not everyone has enough space to bury their pet in their yard. If you’re struggling to find a suitable place, research green pet cemeteries in your area. These eco-friendly organizations exclusively use biodegradable burial boxes and employ environmentally-conscious pest management techniques.
If you can’t find any green pet cemeteries in your local area, it may be worth looking into green whole-family cemeteries. Many allow pets to be buried in the family cemetery plot, while still respecting eco-friendly requirements.
4. Turn them into a sustainable diamond
If you decide to have your dog cremated, you can turn their ashes into a diamond. Specialist companies can extract the carbon from your pet’s remains and use it to grow a genuine diamond which will last forever.
As cremation diamonds are made in a lab, they’re much better for the environment and than mined diamonds. No earth is removed, no water is polluted, and no fossil fuels are consumed. After several weeks, you’re left with a beautiful reminder of your pet made in an ethical and eco-friendly way.
5. Keep talking about them
One of the best ways to process grief is to regularly talk about what you’ve lost. Whenever you feel the need to, talk to someone about your dog. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your child who grew up alongside them or a stranger you’re making small-talk with.
Remembering the silly things they used to do, sharing photos of them as a pup online, and reminiscing about the first time you brought them home might be painful at first, but it will get easier over time. Talking about your pet will help you feel connected to them and will calm you down in times of stress.
Don’t forget about the environment
For many of us, losing a pet is just as agonizing as the death of a family member. And why wouldn’t it be? Our dogs are indispensable parts of our family and we treat them with as much love and care as we would anyone else.
And while you may be overcome by grief, it’s important to remember that your cherished pet isn’t the only thing you need to think about. Your dog used to love our world — running through tall grass, snoozing under the shade of a tree, and simply relishing being outdoors. It’s only fitting that you put them to rest in a green way that takes care of the place they enjoyed so much.
Miranda worked as a registered nurse for over six years, with four years of experience on a pediatrics and orthopedic surgical unit. Miranda also spent two of those years as a travel nurse working in critical care, pediatrics, and healthcare informatics. Miranda now works as a freelance writer.
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