Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Returning to the earth in death

Natural burial must have come into my awareness once upon a time from one of the environmental blogs I read. I know, I know—death is not exactly a fun topic and is one I’d rather not think about, but it’s important and unavoidable.
            So, I tried to get past my mental roadblocks of not even wanting to think about it and started doing some research.  With gratitude to google, I easily learned about the resources for how to obtain a green burial, which, as it turns out, isn’t quite as easy as googling is.
            But what is natural burial and how does it compare to conventional burial?
            It basically means being buried in a biodegradable, sustainable casket without the use of toxic formaldehyde embalming fluid.  This appeals to me because I try to avoid chemicals in my body in life, so I really don’t want to have them in my body in death.  The casket part is important to me too. I want a simple casket that’s not made of veneer, plastic, steel, and/or exotic, non-sustainably harvested wood. I also don’t want to be encased in a concrete vault. 
             One of the few funeral homes here in Indiana who offer this natural option say that “it allows your body to gently reunite with the earth while nurturing and renewing the land.”
            It’s like composting, at its essence.  Returning to the earth.  I like that, the thought of being buried in a natural setting along winding paths, or at least in an environmentally sustainable way.
            Even though today only a handful of funeral providers offer this option, it’s gaining in popularity as more people learn about it.  Visit www.greenburialcouncil.org for a listing of approved providers.
            For those interested in the this route, there is a ‘green’ cemetery, Kessler Woods, located in Indianapolis.  No state requires embalming or concrete vaults for burial, and there are no laws prohibiting unembalmed bodies from being buried in biodegradable caskets.  
            So even though a cemetery may not be certified ‘green,’ it’s worth asking funeral directors and cemetery caretakers about.  The more requests are made, the more accepted and mainstream it will become.
            See www.indianalivinggreen.com for a great article on this topic.

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