Green Burial is the way to go.
Nancy Chubb came up with that catchy slogan. We were so taken with it; we had it made into a bumper sticker. If you’d like one, just let me know by sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But why is green burial the way to go?
Embalming is a brutal way to treat a body (See Mark Harris’ book, Grave Matters, Chapter 1 to see why). It deposits about 2 gallons of toxic formaldehyde into each body, which leaks out of the coffin and flows into our watersheds. (I learned last year that measurements taken outside a local cemetery revealed a steady stream of formaldehyde flowing out into the Monongahela River here in Pittsburgh).
Each year, 22,500 cemeteries across the United States bury approximately:
- 30 million board feet (70,000 m³) 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)
Green Burial is a Genuine Alternative
Conventional cemeteries have a large energy footprint used to mow lawns, trim shrubs and trees and the fertilizers they use pollute.
Green burial does away with most of these negatives. Coffins are biodegradable. The bodies decompose naturally and fertilize forest plants. No toxic embalming fluids are used. Concrete and steel burial vaults are barred.Cremation uses fissile fuels, pollutes the air and contributes to global warming.
But the real key is forest restoration. Forests provide evaporative cooling to fight global warming. They take pollution from the air. They help preserve threatened plants and animals. And they provide recreation for the public.
In addition to being an environment-friendly practice, the income from green burials can be used to pay for the costs of restoring the cemetery forest, which is what we’re doing at Penn Forest Natural Burial Park. So, yes, green burial is the way to go. What do you think?
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