GREEN PIECE: Green in the ground

Print This Page

First Posted: 5/13/2013

It seems like every day I’m hearing about new ways to go green. The latest trend that caught my attention is eco-friendly burials. While this one seemed a bit crazy, after reading about it, it doesn’t sound all that bad.

Green burials have become a growing trend in the United States funeral industry as of late. Funeral homes across the country are now starting to offer eco-friendly services. There’s even a committee called the Green Burial Council, a non-profit organization that operates in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

A survey conducted by funeral industry publishers Kates-Boylston Publications found that 43 percent of surveyors said they would consider a green burial.

“There is a movement toward it, but it’s gaining traction very slowly,” said Jim Ford, vice president of the Neptune Society, which is the largest cremation-only funeral company in the U.S. They also offer green burials on a reef off of Miami – pretty cool.

Individuals who choose a green burial do not use concrete vaults or traditional coffins. Instead, bodies are wrapped in biodegradable material or placed in a pine coffin and put to rest where they then decompose and become part of the earth.

There is even such a thing as e-coffins. This type of coffin is made of bamboo, pine, or recycled cardboard. According to Mary Woodsen, a science researcher at Cornell University, an estimated 60,000 tons of steel and 4.8 million gallons of embalming fluid are buried each year. That’s enough material to build eight Eiffel Towers.

The Green Burial Counsel performs ecological surveys of the cemetery grounds and sets rules that include hand-digging the grave, replacement of the same soil that was dug up, and no vault or cement grave liners. Only biodegradable material is allowed to be buried with the bodies.

Until recently, environmentally friendly burials were not an option. It’s a nice idea to know that your body is able to return to the earth after you are put to rest. While it’s definitely a personal choice, it’s comforting knowing that you can still keep your values, even at the end.