Green Burials See Massive Rise in Popularity Nationwide


Photo credit: foxypar4 via Flickr/CC BY

Green burials have been a growing trend in the United States for some time now -- and the term itself has come to encompass very different kinds of natural burials. But it's still surprising just how fast they've grown. An AP story out today reveals that the Green Burial Council "now counts more than 300 approved providers in 40 states, while only a dozen existed as recently as the beginning of 2008." Ostensibly, that means there are around 25 times the number of approved green burials occurring today than there were just two days ago.Green burials are typically burials that follow one primary guideline: there's no concrete, metal, or any ecologically harmful chemicals used in the burial process. Bodies are buried naturally.

From there, they can vary, as the AP notes (via Salon): "There are hybrid cemeteries that provide both traditional graves and greener ones. There's also natural burial grounds, which prohibit the use of chemicals or materials that do not decay. Another type are conservation burial grounds, in which proceeds from customers buy and conserve land."

The last one is the kind surveyed in the story, and is the one that appears to have the most appeal with environmentalists and conservationists. It's a way to aspire to the most natural burial possible while ensuring that the nature one is buried in remains pristine as long as possible. Hikers and outdoorsmen are unsurprisingly enamored with the idea. The story provides some touching evidence, by chronicling the last days of Steve Sall, who, afflicted by Lou Gherig's disease, was deciding whether to have a green burial in the nature reserve he loved:

For a few moments in June Sall was outdoors again, the forest before him. From his wheelchair, he spotted a ponderosa pine he liked with a surrounding meadow and his heart was set.

"I have been a hiker and a climber, as we drove in I felt very comfortable, like going home," he said, communicating through his wife.

The Salls bought two plots -- one for Steve and one for his wife Teri -- for about $4,800. Steve Sall died in September.

According to the AP, a survey completed earlier this year found that a full quarter of Americans said they liked the idea of such a burial.

I personally love the idea of this kind of green burial -- combining simplicity, ecologically healthy practices, and lasting conservation. Seems like an ideal way to go to me ...

More on Green Burials
The Last Act - Green Burial
The Latest in Green Burials : Be Buried In a Coral Reef
Slate on the Latest in Green Burial

Tags: Conservation | United States

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