Friday, September 20, 2013

What is a “Green” or Natural Burial?



The practice of green aka natural burial dates back to the beginning of time, but has been replaced in modern times by technological advances such as embalming fluids, vaults, liners and mausoleums that interrupt the decomposition process for the purpose of visitation in a funeral home or chapel.


Jewish Burials were the original Green Burials 


Green burials are still traditional in some faiths, and were the way we buried our loved ones in the United States until the Civil War, when the need for development of embalming fluids to preserve and transport the deceased changed the way we practiced funeral services and gave birth to modern mortuary practices. Jewish burials and most Muslim funerals have the same mandates as Green Burials.


With green burials, individuals are buried without traditional caskets of wood or metal and burial vaults. Traditional caskets, except simple Jewish and Muslim caskets are not biodegradable and therefore not permitted in green burials. 85% of all US caskets are stamped steel. Solid wood, particle board and hardwood veneers comprise the other 10-15% with some alternative materials such as fiberglass and woven fibers. Green burial caskets are environmentally friendly and constructed from cardboard, wicker, banana cane, wool or other natural materials.


Green Burials are toxic free 


A green burial is designed to allow the body return to the earth chemical and toxic free. The body is prepared without embalming fluids that destroy microbial decomposers, active in breaking the body down. Embalming which is used to temporarily retard decomposition for body preservation is inconsistent with a natural burial. Only non-toxic and natural embalming fluids without formaldehyde are permitted. Refrigeration or chilling the body using dry ice may also be substituted for embalming. The deceased may not wear any clothing that is not biodegradable. Shrouds made of cotton, linen, jute or other natural fibers which are Eco-friendly are recommended.

Green Burial grounds are serene, Eco-friendly cemeteries 

Green burial grounds are cemeteries that prohibit the use of traditional headstones, metal markers and other non-biodegradable substances. Instead, families plant trees, shrubs, flowers or use natural stones on or near the gravesite to establish a living memorial and create a natural habitat. GPS navigation is utilized in many green cemeteries for means of locating gravesites. Irrigation, pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers are eliminated in favor of non-toxic types of support and control.

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