More people are embracing a concept that has been around as long as we have!
Green, or natural, burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact. It aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduces carbon emissions, protects worker health, and restores or preserves the habitat by using non-toxic and biodegradable materials, such as baskets, shrouds, and urns.
The group that educates organizations and advocates for individuals about the environmental, societal, and economic benefits of green burials is The Green Burial Council . Google them or look for GBC certificates at your funeral facilities. http://www.gravematters.us/faqs.html
GBC certification makes distinctions between the three levels of green burial grounds: hybrid, natural or conservation. It requires cemetery operators to commit to transparency, accountability and third party oversight. It prevents them from going back on ecological or aesthetic promises, such as limitations on burial density. that protect a local ecosystem or prohibitions against the use of monuments that would negatively impact the setting.
More and more death care professionals are embracing this new ethic.
Embalming fluid is usually comprised of the carcinogen chemical formaldehyde. A study by the National Cancer Institute revealed that funeral directors have a much higher incidence of myeloid leukemia as a result of constant exposure to formaldehyde. Fortunately, there are now several formaldehyde-free embalming fluids, including one made of nontoxic and biodegradable essential oils, earning the GBC seal of approval. The sanitation and preservation of a decedent can almost always take place without the use of chemicals, as is done in just about every nation in the world.
Concrete and metal vaults may be considered “natural.” However, manufacturing and transporting vaults uses a tremendous amount of energy and causes enormous carbon emission. They last a very, very long time and cannot give nutrients back to the land.
Cremation uses far fewer resources than almost any other disposition option, but it still has an environmental impact. Cremation burns fossil fuels, and some older cremation facilities can use significantly more energy compared to newer ones. Mercury is emitted when a person with dental amalgam fillings is cremated, but effective filtration devices that can fully mitigate mercury pollution are coming on the market soon. Other metals and substances are intensified in the cremains after burning, so the ashes may not be as pure as we think.
No standards exist yet that allow consumers to determine which crematoriums produce the most pollution and carbon emissions. Recycling medical parts and making a contribution to a carbon fund are ways to make the process more environmentally friendly.
Caskets used in a standard burial are steel, wood, plastic, or metal and they require a much larger amount of land. Caskets, urns, or shrouds suitable for a green burial are made from materials or substances that are nontoxic, readily biodegradable, and not harvested in a manner that destroys habitat. The land used is only as big as the body.
Standard grave sites are landscaped and manicured environments that require fossil fuels, pesticides, and fertilizers to maintain. Natural burial sites are left natural.
Home funerals allow for families to care for a decedent and all aspects of a funeral at their home. Common in the U.S. until the mid-20th century, a home funeral can be facilitated by a family in almost every state, or may be done with the assistance of a licensed funeral director. A home burial might require a minimum number of acres and often the filing of a plat map with the planning department.
How You Can Help:
- Plan and direct your end of life needs.
- Eliminate the impact on your loved ones and the environment.
- Learn about the options for a natural burial and let your loved ones know your concerns and desires.
- You too could become a field of flowers!