At the beginning of my last semester of college I started an internship under the direction of Mary Woodsen, presenter and research director at the Green Burial Council through Cornell University. We are currently working on compiling a white paper on the environmental draw-backs of conventional burial methods. This has involved calling countless casket, upholstery, and stone masons in order to compile accurate information on the amount of materials used for a modern burial. An immense amount of materials and embalming chemicals are used for people's funerals today; just a little over one-hundred years ago people were buried in simple caskets made of locally sourced wood.
We are focusing on the concept of 10 acres vs. 10 acres: the environmental impact of 10 acres of conventional cemetery plots vs. 10 acres of a green cemetery. Conventional cemeteries require constant up-keep of fertilized, unnatural lawns, while the large head-stones that mark each grave contribute to the environmentally devastating mining practices that have been have unleashed on the planet. A green cemetery creates protected lands with unmarked graves, free of chemicals and filled with carbon-capturing trees and foliage. Think of all the land that could be managed responsibly, while also doubling as a beautiful resting place for family and friends who have passed. The white paper is still in construction, but I am continuing this internship into the summer with Mary and I look forward to having a completed product that can be used to help educate people about the benefits of green burial.
Here is a link to the green burial council's website, where anyone who is interested can find information on making arrangements for an environmentally sustainable after-life and for more about the council's vision.