Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Green to the very End

In his book, A Sacred Balance, David Suzuki writes of his father’s passing: “Shortly before he died, he said: ‘I will return to nature where I came from. I will be part of the fish, the trees, the birds – that’s my reincarnation.’”

We know that in nature waste is food. If that is the case what kind of food will you and I be when we pass on? Will our bodies help to nurture the environment or will they contribute to the toxicity evading our soil, water and air? Ok ok, I know that this is all rather yuk and not our most favourite topic but if we wish to lead a green life, why not consider having a green death?

So what’s involved? What’s the greenest burial? You may think cremation but with the fossil fuel required to keep the fire burning, think again. Green burials involve just that –burial. A biodegradable casket or simple shroud is used, no chemicals preserve the body, and the grave is in an existing ecosystem or rehabilitating system. A simple sign marks that you’re…well…there.

What’s the Big Deal? – According to Natural Burial Co-operative, there are 22,500 conventional cemeteries in the United States. Together they contribute to the following:
  • 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid, which includes formaldehyde.
  • 30-plus million board feet of hardwoods (Caskets).
  • 90,272 tons of steel (Caskets).
  • 14,000 tons of steel (Vaults).
  • 2,700 tons of copper and bronze (Caskets).
  • 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete (Vaults).

When you consider all the formaldehyde leaching into the soil and water table, well, you get the picture.

If you want a green death, remember to tell your loved ones and include your green burial wishes in your will. Personally speaking, I like the idea of visitors looking up at a tree and not down at my grave when they come to give their respects.

There is a movement in finding and securing more green burial sites. For more information, visit…. (Canada) (North America) (UK, North America) (British Columbia)
Green Burial Council (USA)

In the News

Oh it’s Grim - Climate report spurs global calls for speedy change
But do you think we listen? - Land yachts popular despite gas prices

Green Bloggers

Ecoshock Radio

Grist Magazine

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog

BBC – The Greenroom

New York Times – Environment


Janer said...

Cheryl, I love this post! It's not morbid at all to me. We live and we die, and the thought of actually going back into the soil and enriching as opposed to polluting it, makes the circle, truly, naturally, complete. Thanks for shedding light on all these dark corners, inches at a time. By the time you're done, you'll have enlightened many many sq miles! (I think of that real estate as both interior and exterior.)

Anonymous said...

I am also a huge fan of green burials, they just make so much more sense to me- both environmentally and financially. And I don't think it is morbid to talk about these things, as they are important decisions for your friends, family, and should be for yourself.
I first heard of green burial via a documentary called Lasting Images (can be found here if interested:
It highlights several alternatives to traditional burial and actually opened my eyes and got me thinking about my final plans.
There are many creative and unique choices showcased in the film that I knew nothing about; one of my favorites is the fireworks memorial. Very creative, and almost celebratory, which is something I prefer in these types of ceremonies. Thanks for the discussion on this topic, I believe it should be spoken of more often!