Greensprings Natural Cemetery To Be Dedicated
|By Michael d'Estries in Green Living | May 17, 2006|
As if we don’t screw with the environment enough while we’re alive, there’s one final nail to hammer into the Earth when we die.
“The average cemetery buries 1,000 gallons of embalming fluid, 97.5 tons of steel, 2,028 tons of concrete, and 56,250 board feet of high quality wood in just one acre of green.”
One of only five natural cemeteries in the United States will be dedicated this Sunday at 2pm in the Town of Newfield, NY. Eco-Cemeteries are experiencing a revival in popularity as the topic of burial becomes more open in today’s society of high cost funerals and tough restrictions on the ‘disposal’ of a human body. The ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ rhetoric doesn’t really apply anymore when your body is contained in a watertight coffin and then a secondary copper tomb. Natural Cemeteries allow a 15×15 ft. plot to be purchased that can then be landscaped with a native tree or shrub (taking care of your marker is your responsibility). Stone markers may be placed on the grave, but they must be native stones and unpolished or cut. A simple message may be placed on the stone. A memorial wall will be available on site to record the names of those that have passed. Since neither tree nor inscription lasts forever, Greensprings will mark each corner of the lot–and the head and foot of the grave–with special magnetized nails (that can be found with a metal detector). Your site will also be marked on a map.
Bodies are not embalmed to reduce chemical pollution (interestingly, there are no states have laws that require embalming) and if you want to hold a wake, “you’ll want to keep the body in an unheated room (during the winter) or buy lots of dry ice to place beneath the body (during the summer, or in heated rooms).” For burial, your coffin “should be simply constructed of local, sustainably harvested lumber. You may make your own. Alternatively, people may be legally interred in a shroud or even woven wicker containers.”
Sadly, even my preferred method of disposal, cremation, is not free from causing harm to the environment. From the site, “Each cremation releases between .8 and 5.9 grams of mercury as bodies are burned. This amounts to somewhere between 1,000 and 7,800 pounds of mercury each year. Seventy-five percent goes into the air and the rest settles into the ground and water. You could drive about 4,800 miles on the energy equivalent of the energy used to cremate someone-and to the moon and back 83 times on the energy from all cremations in one year in the U.S.”
Each 15-ft. x15-ft. lot sells for $500. The cemetery itself covers over 100 acres; and over time, will appear more like a beautiful forest, than a green lot with tombstones.
If you purchase two or three lots, you get a 10% discount. Purchase four to eight lots, and your discount is 15%. Obviously, these prices are ridiculously low compared to what you would pay for a lot much smaller. It’s amazing how much standard cemeteries rip off the average citizen.
GroovyGreen will be on hand this Sunday to record the ceremony and interview some of the participants. In a day and age where even the Earth stands no benefit from our bodies returning, it’s nice to see a choice to bypass the chemicals, tombs, and wasteful bullshit preached to us by Funeral Homes and directly get involved with life renewed on Earth.