12 November 2008
Going Green Forever
A modern natural burial is an environmentally alternative to existing funeral practices where the body is returned to the earth to decompose naturally and be recycled into new life. With natural burial, the body is prepared without chemical preservatives and is buried in a simple shroud or biodegradable casket that might be made from locally harvested wood, wicker, or even recycled paper, or perhaps even decorated with good-bye messages from friends.
A natural burial ground often uses grave markers that don’t intrude on the landscape. These natural markers can include shrubs and tress, an engraved flat stone native to the area or centralized memorial structure set within the emerging forest that provides places for visitors to sit. As in all cemeteries, there are careful records kept of the exact location of each internment, often using modern survey techniques such as GIS (geographic information system).
Irrigation is not used, nor is pesticides and herbicides applied; instead, a natural burial preserve protects and restores nature while establishing a place where family and friends can visit and be at peace.
Cemetery legislation protects natural burial preserves in perpetuity from future development while the establishment of a conservation easement prevents futures owners from altering the original intent for these burial grounds. These protective measures are what permit natural burial preserves to function as landscape level conservation tool.
Natural burial is a statement of personal values for many people who seek to minimize their impact on the planet. For people who are mindful of the cyclical nature of life, natural burial is a spiritually fulfilling alternative to the conventional funeral.
With a typical modern funeral, the body is laid naked on a stainless steel embalmer’s table, bled out, disemboweled, and pumped full of noxious chemicals to keep the...