Back to Nature: Green Burial Movement Gains Favor

Across the country and around the world, people are changing the way they live in order to save the planet ­– driving smaller cars and fewer miles, reusing shopping bags, and recycling everything from newspaper and plastic containers to motor oil and batteries. Now this heightened environmental consciousness is fueling a movement to change the way we die.

According to Mark Harris, author of the book Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial (Scribner, 2007), a typical modern cemetery is “a landfill of largely nonbiodegradable – and in some cases toxic – material.” A July 2008 article in National Geographic Magazine supports that claim with some pretty grim statistics:

Every year,

  • 90,000 tons of steel,
  • 1.6 million tons of concrete and
  • over 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid

are buried in U.S. cemeteries. Add to that the fact that 30 million board feet of wood ­– much of it tropical hardwood ­– are used in making caskets, and you have not only a recipe for a toxic soup, but a practice that’s clearly unsustainable.

Nathan Butler of Indiana is one funeral director in the forefront of the green burial movement, responding to the growing demand for simpler, less costly and more earth-friendly funeral services. And he’s not alone. Although the green burial movement is still in its fledgling stages, 12 cemeteries and 60 funeral homes across the country have been certified as “green” ­– a trend that’s sure to continue with the aging of the Baby Boom generation.

Comments (1)

Mike SalisburyDecember 8th, 2008 at 10:15 am

Natural Burial Around the World

The modern concept of natural burial began in the UK in 1993 and has since spread across the globe. According the Centre for Natural Burial, there are now several hundred natural burial grounds in the United Kingdom and half a dozen sites across the USA, with others planned in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and even China.

A natural burial allows you to use your funeral as a conservation tool to create, restore and protect urban green spaces.

The Centre for Natural Burial provides comprehensive resources supporting the development of natural burial and detailed information about natural burial sites around the world. With the Natural Burial Co-operative newsletter you can stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the rapidly growing trend of natural burial including, announcements of new and proposed natural burial sites, book reviews, interviews, stories and feature articles.

The Centre for Natural Burial

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