Many people dream of being laid to rest in a beautiful wilderness area, especially one that had some special meaning in life. Thanks to green burial services, this dream is becoming reality for a growing number of people.
What Is a Green Burial Service?
Modern burial and end of life practices are not very eco-friendly. Most bodies today are embalmed with formaldehyde, a chemical known to cause increased rates of cancer in workers who come into contact with it regularly. After burial, formaldehyde can also leach into surrounding soil and nearby groundwater reserves, poisoning them. Though cremation is a more eco-friendly alternative in general, it releases an estimated 350 pounds of carbon dioxide per cremation, as well as soot particles, sulfur dioxide, and even mercury from dental fillings.
The modern practice of embalming bodies dates from the Civil War era, when it was used to preserve the bodies of soldiers so they could be sent home. Embalming is not required by law in any state and a growing number of people are choosing to forego the process after death and choose a natural burial instead. Funeral homes practicing natural burial use refrigeration to preserve the body if it must be kept longer than 24 hours, and bury it in a cloth shroud or biodegradable coffin with no vault.
There is also a growing trend towards “conservation burial,” which uses burial grounds to support ecological conservation and restoration of wilderness areas. Conservation burial grounds typically set aside one area of a large nature preserve for natural burials. Plot owners and their loved ones can visit the preserve and in many cases even contribute to conservation or restoration work being done. At the time of burial, graves are typically dug by hand (often with the help of family members and other loved ones) to minimize disturbance to the surrounding ecosystem. Loved ones may also help fill in the grave. Wildflowers and other native flora will grow back over the grave, creating a beautiful living memorial for survivors.
Another unique green burial option is a water burial. Perfect for people who love the ocean, a water burial can consist either of a weighted biodegradable coffin or a reef ball containing cremated remains. Reef balls are concrete spheres used to replace coral reefs that have been damaged or destroyed by pollution, global warming, or other factors. The balls serve as a foundation for coral polyps and other marine life to take hold and, over time, rebuild the reef.
Starting a Green Burial Service
If you are a compassionate person with the desire to help others through times of grief and bereavement with the healing power of nature, starting a green burial service may be a good green business opportunity for you.
The Green Burial Council offers information and resources for green burial providers, including a certification process, directory of providers, and provider community for exchanging information and knowledge about green burial practices.
Three Green Burial Services For an Eco-Friendly Afterlife
In 1996, Memorial Ecosystems opened the first green cemetery in the United States and it remains a leader in the field of conservation burial. It offers natural burials at the 33 acre Ramsey Creek Preserve near Westminster, SC, and the 2200 acre Honey Creek Woodlands, a preserve owned and managed by the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia. (Both cemeteries accept people of any faith, or none at all.) The preserves also offer ash scatterings.
Moles Family Funeral Home and Crematory offers natural burials at beautiful Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, WA. Families have the opportunity to plant native memorial trees or shrubs at the gravesite of their loved ones, and the park is undergoing ongoing ecological restoration
Eternal Reefs, based on Sarasota, FL, offers reef ball burials for loved ones, creating a true living memorial that also helps restore one of the world’s most diverse and threatened ecosystems. Family members and other loved ones can participate in casting the reef ball and then attend viewing and dedication ceremonies to take rubbings or hold military honors for loved ones, and to watch the ball being placed. Eternal Reefs has special programs for couples wishing to be together in the memorial reef, and for pets. Memorial reef locations vary.