Typically a burial shroud is a piece of cloth or fabric that is used to wrap a body in preparation for burial or cremation. It was, perhaps, the first very funeral product and after many years of being on the “back burner” is quickly gaining in popularity as the most eco-friendly container to be buried in. Historically it was not only used for the practical purpose of providing dignity to the dead but also protection from the elements and spiritual reverence as they body was shrouded.
The fabric can be of any material and there are various different types of shrouds from a single piece of cloth to intricately designed shrouds. In terms of a green funeral the fabric should be natural such as hemp, cotton, linen, wool or bamboo with hemp being, arguably, the most ecological, animal friendly and sustainable of them all.
A little shrouding history
Dating even before the Turin Shroud is a shroud discovered in a Jerusalem tomb which has been carbon-dated to the 1st century. Shrouds have traditionally been used by religious groups as part of their burial rituals and services for many years and these traditions still exist.
Native Americans would shroud their dead in animal skin.
Strangely, in England in 1667 everyone had to be buried in wool or the deceased’s estate or relatives would receive a fine of £5! This continued for more than a century and was, in part, due to the volume of deaths as a result of the bubonic plague whilst there was also a surplus of wool from local sheep. So, in order to preserve linen for other uses it was ordered by the government that people must only be buried in wool. More on that here https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/england-wool-burial-shrouds
In India and other Asian countries shrouds are most often used for cremation.
And when we look at the practices of Buddhism and Paganism nature and feeding back to the Earth hold huge importance.
Today, shrouds are used all over the world by those of us who care deeply about our natural world and about leaving it a better place for those who will inherit it.