August 11, 2008

Even Death Isn’t Zero Impact.

The Lion King made it seem so simple. Someone dies, their body decomposes. Plants grow on the newly fertilized soil. Simba defeats his evil plotting uncle and Elton John sings while rain replenishes the Serengeti Plains. But no, we humans need to stick our opposable thumbs into everything, even the circle of life.

Each year, Americans bury nearly a million gallons of chemical embalming fluids along with our dead. Every ten acres of cemetery land contains almost a thousand tons of steel caskets, 20,000 tons of concrete vaults and enough casket wood to build more than 40 homes. Plus, chemical lawncare sprays tons of pesticides and herbicides onto miles of irrigated, plush lawns. Instead of returning our dead to the land, we’re killing the earth in our effort to remember them.

Enter the Green Burial Conference, coming to Boulder this October. Natural Transitions, the sponsoring organization, provides resources for eco-friendly burials (did you know that in Colorado, you can file a death certificate and bury your own dead without the help of a funeral home?). Their home funeral guides also help to plan ceremonies and make arrangements, leaving the family members more space and time to grieve.

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Merete Mueller  |  Contribution: 13,520