Monday, March 2, 2009

Simply Green

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

I have written in this space previously about the concept of green funerals - burials in biodegradable caskets with no embalming fluid. Recently there was a story on the 'internets' about green cremations, an interesting off-shoot of the green burial concept.

The company cited in the article was Eternal Reefs of Decatur, GA, an outfit that mixes cremated remains with environmentally safe cement and forms the result into artificial reefs that are then dropped into the ocean to form safe habitats for the little fishies. Carole Dunham, who passed away from cancer last November, chose this option. Her remains are now part of an artificial reef off the coast of North Miami Beach. Her loved ones can scuba out to the site and view the reef which is marked with a brass plaque.

I still have a preference for green burials over green cremations. There is a lot of energy expended in cremation, and a decomposing body works its way back into the soil for the benefit of plants and, ultimately, animals.

The Green Burial Council of Santa Fe, NM, an independent, non-profit organization, released the following statistics regarding standard burials in the United States. In one year the United States buries (in addition to the bodies): 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 827,000 tons of toxic embalming fluid, 90,000 tons of steel (from caskets), and 30 million tons of hardwood board. The Council dramatized those amounts by stating that the steel buried in this country in one year could rebuild the Golden Gate Bridge, and the concrete is enough to build a two-lane highway from New York to Detroit.

And while we are still in the throes of the Bush Depression, wouldn't it be nice for the family if their only burial expenses were a biodegradable casket (fancy cardboard) and a burial plot? - no satin-lined, mahogany box with genuine brass handles, no cement vault, no embalming fluid. Nice, and simple, and cheap.

Funerals in America have slowly evolved into a racket. We have grown accustomed to funeral directors directing us into plush send-offs and guilting us if we choose to pack our dearly deceased in something less than the Cadillac of caskets. We are spending more and more money to needlessly pollute the earth and waste all of that good plant food. It's time that we got back to the basics of burials - the way our ancestors did it.

No comments: