Opportunities for Burial Alternatives
There are alternatives to conventional burial. There is much talk about ‘going green’ and other ways to help nature by seeking burial alternatives. The aim is to be more environmentally friendly.
Most cultures hold that being buried is a respectful way of saying farewell to the dead. Family and friends have the comfort of standing at the graveside. But many people are moving away from this tradition.
Environmentally Unfriendly Burials
Burials do take up a lot of space. With the growing population plus serious accidents and diseases, cemeteries are full to overflowing. There is little scope of establishing new sites. A full cemetery does not have a future yet money goes towards maintaining it and keeping it a tranquil place to visit.
Also, the burial process is an environmentally unfriendly one, where harmful substances are yielded to the soil – things like solvents, non-biodegradable elements and glues.
The World Looking towards ‘Going Green’
In some countries such as the USA and the United Kingdom, the ‘going green‘ movement the natural burial movement) is working hard to reform our traditions on how we return to dust and ashes.
The search for low-impact burial alternatives is on the go.
They aim to create sites that become natural assets rather than grim, sterile places. Bodies don’t get embalmed and coffins get made from easily decomposable, non-toxic materials. Trees, rocks and shrubs become the preferred headstones. Traditional coffins can take years and years to bio-degrade.
Cremation becoming a More Popular Alternative
Cremation does not require cemetery space and is cheaper than conventional burials. However crematoria’s contribute towards air pollution, emitting toxins such as hydrogen chloride, formaldehyde, dioxins, mercury and more. A little less harmful than the crematorium toxins, are the funeral litter items. These can be things like artificial wreaths and non-biodegradable crematorium urns. Often these get cast into the water.
Today’s greener coffins are made of sturdy cardboard. This breaks down easily into the soil. Usually they are made from recycled materials. Other materials uses are wicker, branches, bamboo, or even a shroud made from strong natural fabrics.
South Africa and Conservation
South Africa has its own green burial site, established near Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. It is called the Wiesenhof Legacy Park. Wiesenhof comprises 300-hectares of privately-owned nature reserve. You can even scatter ashes there.
It is a natural habitat for wildlife such as zebra and springbok. Of the 300 hectares, 10 hectares has been used for the burial site. The CEO of this site says ‘While traditional cemeteries have up to 80% of a site covered with graves, our difference is conservation’. The idea is that bodies and ashes are interred in caskets that are made from biodegradable materials. The burial sites are marked with simple, flat stone markers or trees.
Burial alternatives – Green is More Meaningful
You might be worried that your green funeral comes across as ‘cheap’. Don’t worry. Just make it clear in your final wishes are because of your ideals and concerns about the environment.
You can rest assured this will have a far meaningful message than that of velvet linings and brass handles sealed with glue.
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