The Future of Green Burials Lies in the Past

The modern funeral industry took something that was natural and safe and converted it into a toxic-filled death. When people die we need to dispose of the body in an appropriate way to ensure diseases don’t spread, human civilizations have been doing this for millennia.

However, in the past hundred years we have started taking corpses and filling them with toxic chemicals which means we can’t bury the bodies like we used to. Toxic corpses are more dangerous than non-toxic ones and this has caused people to reflect on what to do.

Green burials are growing in popularity as a result. Indeed, we first looked at green burials back in 2007.

Green burials are the minimalist, eco-conscious burials of the future, but emerging from a history deeply rooted in the past. The dead are wrapped in cloth shrouds or placed in simple coffins made from natural materials like cardboard or pine and buried in a green space, such as a rural or woodland area. “It turns a gruesome procedure into something more natural and celebratory,” explained Mark Harris, author of Grave Matters: A Journey through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial.

He describes the process as, “returning a body into the earth, where it’s allowed to degrade naturally, renourish soil, push up a tree, rejoin a natural cycle of life.” And, green funerals are much cheaper, with most costing in the low thousands, whereas the median cost for a funeral requiring a vault comes in at over $8,000. According to Harris, “the current cemetery functions less as a resting ground for the dead than a landfill of non-biodegradable and sometimes hazardous materials.”

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