With many people striving to make environmentally friendly choices regarding the products they buy, the food they eat and other resources they use, it is no surprise that green funerals are on the rise. While being buried without modern chemicals in a wicker casket—or no casket at all—seems old-fashioned, green cemeteries still utilize modern technology to record grave locations.
Conventional burial usually involves embalming the deceased and laying the body in a metal or hardwood casket, which is placed in a cement vault in the ground. In contrast, the green burial movement involves little impact on the environment. No are no chemicals, vaults or grave liners, but rather biodegradable caskets or simple shrouds to allow natural decomposition.
The Green Burial Council had only one certified green funeral provider in North America in 2006, but now that number is above 340, including 270 funeral homes and 60 cemeteries across the United States.
“It’s going to trend up as baby boomers go into the grave. This is a generation of people that has upended every cultural milestone they’ve met,” said Joe Sehee of the Green Burial Council.
One reason why people are choosing green burials is the price. According to the NFDA, the national median cost of a conventional adult funeral with a viewing, burial and vault was $8,508 in 2014. Green burial methods and choosing an eco-friendly casket only cost an average of $2,000 to $3,000.
A desire to be friendly to the earth is also a large driving factor in choosing a green burial.
According to the Green Springs Natural Cemetery Preserve at naturalburial.org, conventional burial uses an estimated 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid nationally year. Casket manufacturing uses 90,272 tons of steel and 2,700 tons of copper and bronze every year in the U.S. Many want to do as little harm to the environment as possible and “become one with the earth.”
For nature-lovers, conservation burial is green burial at its best. It involves being buried unobtrusively in a natural landscape on land established as a nature preserve.
Such burial methods combine the nature-based approach with the latest technology. Since any grave markings in these preserves can usually only be plants, rocks or small wooden plaques, grave locations are recorded in a GPS-based system.
By using a GPS system instead of large memorials or other obstructions, the land can be easily used for various outdoor activities while leaving the habitat intact.
Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery uses CemSites software to plot and display the location of graves. With CemSites’ Walk-to-Site navigation tool, visitors can easily navigate the conservation grounds using their mobile phones—no app needed.
Prairie Creek has also installed two kiosks to help guide visitors during their visit to the 78-acre nature preserve.
Bunurong Memorial Park will be opening a woodland burial section to their traditional cemetery within a year, according to the Canberra Times. To track their burials, they will attach dime-sized GPS trackers within plastic capsules to burial shrouds. The shroud and body will decompose, but the tracker will remain to allow visitors to locate the site though an app on their phones.
For more information on CemSites mapping solutions, visit http://cemsites.com/cemetery-software/cemetery-mapping/
“Green-living people seek natural burial options” by Akiko Matsuda http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/11/06/green-living-people-seek-natural-burial-options/75272990/
“Free Press Staff Writer Green burials gain ground in VT” by Joel Banner Baird http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/life/green-mountain/2015/11/06/green-burials-gain-ground-vt/74272892/
“Tech-savvy baby boomers living death to the fullest” by Chris Johnston http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/techsavvy-baby-boomers-living-death-to-the-fullest-20150430-1mwzfz#ixzz3rlUFaDrI