Eco-Friendly Burial Options

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What form of burial to choose is of great concern to many, but for those who are eco-conscious, the concerns are specifically related to being eco-friendly.

You may wonder if conventional burial practices are harmful to the earth. In truth, conventional burial is not particularly green. Trees must be cut to make the coffin, and embalming fluids like formaldehyde and methanol are not earth-friendly. Another concern is the use of land for conventional burial. The earth itself must be dug up and cemetery plots take up space.

If these are matters of concern to you, it might be a good idea to take a look at some alternatives and talk them over with your family. Death is not an easy subject, but discovering eco-friendly options may make the subject more approachable for you.

1. Urns

There are now urns available that are made of paper or biodegradable cotton. They can be very simple or beautifully decorated with floral designs. Rather than scattering the ashes and having an empty metal urn, these “earth urns” are placed on the water’s surface or buried in the ground, where they will sink and/or eventually break down.

2. Coffins

* Coffins made from sustainable wood are a viable option for the eco-conscious.

* Recycled cardboard and paper are eco-friendly coffin materials that will break down naturally and become part of the soil.

* Coffin covers are a very affordable option for families who want the look of a traditional coffin without the steel, lacquered wood, and waste that go with it. A coffin cover slips over a biodegradable cardboard box. The cardboard box goes into the ground or on to cremation while the coffin cover can be re-used.

3. Nitrogen Freezing

This innovative form of burial involves freezing the body with liquid nitrogen. Once frozen, the brittle body undergoes a series of vibrations that break it into powder. The moisture is removed by placing the powder into a vacuum chamber, resulting in something like dust. For those who are uncomfortable with cremation, this is a greener option.

4. Woodland Burial

While woodland burials do vary somewhat, the main idea is to place the body in the earth and let nature grow up and around the grave with or without a visual marker. It is the opposite of the groomed, “kept” cemetery with trimmed hedges, mowed lawns, and neat containers of silk flowers. A woodland burial can involve any number of eco-friendly coffins or urns for the body, but the common thread is to place the body into a natural setting that will remain so.

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