If living sustainably and minimizing your impact on the environment is something that you’ve been concerned with throughout your life, it’s understandable that you’d want to ensure that after you’ve passed away, your remains are handled in an environmentally responsible way. Unfortunately, traditional burial takes up a lot of resources and can be damaging to the Earth. If you’re working on your end-of-life plans, you may be looking for a greener and more sustainable way to handle the burial. Luckily, you have options, like a green burial. Take a look at the benefits of a green burial to find out whether or not it’s the right choice for you.
Green Burial Protects Natural Resources
Preserving natural resources as much as possible and avoiding any waste of those resources when you do use them is an important part of environmental responsibility. Conventional caskets made out of limited resources like wood and steel are not necessarily produced in a sustainable way. And even if the materials were gathered and manufactured responsibly, you’re still harvesting a natural resource just to bury it under the ground forever – not the best use of a limited resource.
With a green burial, you may choose not to have a casket at all. The objective of a green burial is simply to return the body to the earth, with as little as possible in the way of a container. You can be buried in a shroud made of cotton or wool if you like. Or, if you do prefer a casket, you can choose a green casket made of materials like hemp, recycled cardboard, bamboo, cork, or bamboo. These materials are more sustainable than ordinary wood, and they’re also biodegradable.
Green Burial Protects the Environment
Protecting the soil, water, and flora and fauna is another important aspect of environmental responsibility. Conventional caskets are often painted and usually treated with chemicals that slow down the biodegradation process. Then, as the caskets begin to slowly break down, those chemicals are released into the soil, where they can spread to the surrounding land and infiltrate the groundwater. This creates a potentially toxic environment for the plants and animals native to the area.
However, the easily biodegradable shrouds and caskets used in green burials will break down much more quickly. Because they’re not painted or chemically treated, there are no chemicals to leach into the soil. The natural materials simply return to the earth. What’s more, green cemeteries are usually cared for in an environmentally friendly way. Green cemetery caretakers use natural methods to keep bugs away and maintain the grass and plants.
Green Burial Protects Workers
People are part of the earth, and a good environmentalist knows that they need to be protected from toxins as well. You probably don’t think of a funeral home as a potentially hazardous workplace, but it can be. This is largely because of the embalming process, where funeral home workers treat the body of the deceased with chemicals like formaldehyde to keep the body from disintegrating quickly. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, and it’s associated with certain types of cancers. It also causes symptoms like skin irritation, sore throat, coughing and wheezing, and nausea. Workers who are exposed to it are at risk for these problems.
Many people believe that embalming is required by law, but that is a myth. It’s only required under certain circumstances, such as when the body has to travel by plane. With a green burial, embalming is not desired anyway, because the goal is to return the body to the earth. So, by choosing a green burial, you’re protecting workers from exposure to potentially hazardous embalming fluids.
In some states, you can choose to have a green burial on property that you own. There are also a number of green cemeteries located around the United States. If green burial sounds like it might be right for you, find a green cemetery in your area to learn how to plan for your return to the earth.
For more information about your various burial options, contact a local cemetery or funeral home like Memorial Mortuaries