Slideshow: Green Burials

May 29, 2009

Green burials are becoming more and more popular in the United States. They serve as an alternative to modern burials, where toxic chemicals are used in the embalming process, and metal caskets and concrete vaults costs thousands of dollars. There are different degrees of green burial, but the overall goal is to reconnect with nature, and often to preserve it, too.

Photo courtesy of Mark Harris.

Advertisement

Free Newsletter

In places like Ramsey Creek Preserve, located in South Carolina, and the first conservation green burial site in the country, a grave is dug in a field, meadow, or woodland area. Sometimes family members can plant flowers, but they must be native to the area.

Photo courtesy of Ramsey Creek.

Biodegradable shrouds, blankets, or coffins made of pine, sea grass, wicker, or other natural materials are often used in green burials because they will break down and become part of nature, too. Concrete vaults typically used in modern cemeteries aren’t found in these burial grounds.

Photo courtesy of Ramsey Creek.

Staff members at many green sites are available to dig and cover the graves, but family and friends often find it therapeutic to lend a hand.

Photo courtesy of Ramsey Creek.

It doesn’t take long for the burial sites to blend into the natural surroundings. Some people engrave a stone from the preserve to use as a marker, but either way, the burial location is recorded. Some traditional cemeteries (the ones we’re used to seeing) are starting to allow greener burials, where bodies aren’t mandated to be embalmed or put in caskets that will never decompose.

Photo courtesy of Ramsey Creek.

There are several places, like this EcoEternity forest in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, where you can lease a tree where cremated remains (and even those of your friends and pets) can be buried.

Photo courtesy of Mark Harris.

Green burials aren’t restricted to land, either. If you want your final resting place to be beneficial to the sea, your remains can be cast into a concrete reef ball that will support life at the bottom of the ocean. Eternal Reefs offers an on-ship memorial ceremony before the artificial reef is placed into the water.

Photo courtesy of Mark Harris.

Using GPS technology, the final resting place is recorded, in case family members want to return, or even scuba dive, to see the reef ball once it’s inhabited with new life.

Photo courtesy of Eternal Reefs.

Tags: Rodale News