Sunday, May 24, 2009

Green Burial

Yesterday I attended the annual meeting of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Greater Philadelphia where the speaker explained green burial. First, Bob Gasparro, FCAGP President, showed photos of a tour of one of Philadelphia's largest crematoria. The crematorium handles about 500 bodies every month, and runs up a gas bill of $20,000.  That's $40 per person. Quite a carbon footprint.  In contrast, green burial is being used to preserve and reclaim natural habitats.
The speaker, Donna Larsen,, showed photos of families painting cardboard boxes that served as both biodegradable burial container and a final good-bye card. Other families wrapped the deceased in a quilt and tied it with ribbons.  She said that the same baby boomers who reclaimed childbirth as a family event, are now reclaiming burial as a family event -- the photos showed children and grandchildren participating. 
Green burial markers are mostly unobtrusive -- a magnetic peg that can be kept track of with a GPS. Or a natural rock. Some Green Burial locations have a place for plaques. But the actual burial site looks natural. People can walk along paths in the woods right beside the burial grounds. Donna said her best memories of her father are all in the wilderness, so she wanted to be able to place him in wilderness.  Green Burial is now one more option, along with cremation, sky burial, and graveyards.
The cost of green burial is slightly higher than cremation, but it is your final purchase. You are no longer saving for your old age. And it is a lasting gift to the planet.  
I was all set on cremation until I attended this meeting.  Green Burial now has a lot more appeal, but I don't know where I'll be when I die. I might not be near a green burial location. Fortunately, tax breaks for land preservation mean that more and more green burial sites are becoming available. 

1 comment:

  1. "Death care" will certainly become greener in the future - we and the earth can be happy about this. However, two aspects have been ignored in these discussions: perpetuity and memorialization.

    We need to find meaningful and attractive new ways to leave memorials for family and future humanity. And we need new ways to ensure these places of memory remain undisturbed forever. Our resting places will be greener in the future - let's also think about how to make them meaningful and enduring.

    Interested? Please visit Perpetua's Garden.

    Thomas Friese