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The Big "Green" Sleep

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A green woodland burial site in the UK where the ‘headstones’ are saplings

Today, there are many environmentally responsible decisions that one can make regarding the ‘eternal rest.’ Mortality is not the most popular topic at the water cooler, but talking green lightens things up. Why not choose a departure that honors not only an individual’s life, but the earth as well?

There are plenty of reasons why the typical rituals surrounding death are no longer ecologically viable. The ground in cemeteries is treated with fertilizer, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals. Cremation is greener than traditional embalming and burying, but environmental issues include burning of fossil fuels and the release of toxins from the body (mercury in fillings, dioxin, hydrochloric acid, etc.) It is a much less expensive option than burial and these days the high-temperature burners can help to destroy some of the toxins released by the body. For more information on fuss-free, non-religious direct cremations in the Lancashire area, click here.

For some (depending on one’s spiritual or religious leanings) cremation might not be an option. During difficult times it can be hard to make a decision if one is not prepared. greenburialcouncil The Green Burial Council is an organization that has been helping to set the standards in a growing field. From their website:

Since 2005, the Green Burial Council has been working to make burial sustainable for the planet, meaningful for the families, and economically viable for the provider. And in that short period of time, we’ve emerged as the “gold standard” among consumers, land trusts, park service agencies as well the cemetery/funeral profession.
* By developing a certification program that is bringing about a new ethic in deathcare rooted in transparency, accountability and ecological responsibility;
* By building out an international network of “approved providers” who are committed to reducing toxins, waste, and carbon emissions that have been associated with conventional end-of-life rituals; and
* By bringing conservation organizations together with cemetery operators, funeral establishments, and cremation companies to create burial programs that facilitate the restoration, acquisition and stewardship of natural areas.

The group has generated a large database providing lists of international providers who seek to minimize toxins, waste and carbon emissions. This site is an excellent resource for anyone curious about progressive end-of-life practices and rituals.

C.A. Beal has written a treatise on the natural burial movement and an excerpt of her book on the subject can be read here. Beal goes into thorough detail, documenting all things regarding dying green.

The Green Burial Council is standardizing the process of natural burials and land conservation. For more information on what this process involves click here.

When you think about it, choosing a green way to “go” could be one of the most environmentally important decisions you make. And once you include it in your will’s directives, you never have to think about it (or stress your family out when the inevitable happens) again. After all, none of us gets out of here alive!