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    How to Plan a Green Death – and Green Burial

    What a better day to talk about death than on All Hallows’ Eve?

    A couple of weekends ago, I went camping with friends. As we were driving to the mountains, we passed by a huge cemetery. Marveling at all the tombstones, I found myself asking out loud “Isn’t this such an unnatural method of an organic process?”

    Luckily, my friends are as weird as I am. We chatted about the contradictory of modern-day burials, with bodies being protected with loads of concrete and material from the natural land.

    Think about it: cemeteries are literally landfills for humans who since passed. And the process isn’t at all eco-friendly. There’s a ton of metal, wood, and concrete that shield a body from the dirt around it. Cremations use two SUV tanks worth of fuel. Not to mention the formaldehyde and rubbing alcohol used to embalm corpses. “Every year in the U.S. we bury more than 5 million gallons of embalming fluid,” according to MNN.

    But if we’re so into composting our food, why don’t we think about natural processes for our body when they’re… done?

    The Green Burial Council has gained momentum in response to this question. Want to look into plans to leave for your loved ones? The Green Burial Council guide ranging from how to treat your body, to finding sustainably harvested wooden caskets and protecting local habitats. Concerned about greenwashing from companies? The Green Burial Council will answer questions about products, so you don’t have to worry.

    Other alternatives range from logical to a little more out there if you’re planning to be cremated. Plan a burial at sea and help dying coral reefs upon your grand exit with an Eternal Reef. For several grand ($4000-$8000), the reefs provide habitats for sea life.

    Want to help lower the CO2 levels you increased with your time on earth? Bios Incube is an urn that grows a tree from ashes. Smart technology tracks how much water you need and if your urn needs a temperature change.

    The good news is that many sustainable death options can actually lower the price tag of funerals.

    planning a Philadelphia Green Burial

    Do you want to plan a green burial locally?

    Located in Bala Cynwyd, local cemetery West Laurel Hill is one sustainable option. West Laurel Hill permits unbalmed bodies, allows the use of no outer burial containers or shrouds and untreated wood caskets instead of metal caskets.

    West Laurel Hill has a Nature’s Sanctuary section, where graves are only hand-dug, and you’re laid to rest overlooking the Cynwyd Heritage Trail with indigenous grasses, trees, and shrubs.


    So readers, what do you think about a green death? We’re dying to hear your thoughts!

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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