(higher and lower alternatives exist)
Since death is a natural part of the cycle of life, it seems fitting that some people are seeking a natural way of celebrating the end. They are foregoing most of the hype and high expense that is typically associated with an elaborate burial ceremony and turning instead to eco-friendly funerals, which are simple funerals that are done without embalming fluids, markers and metal caskets in order to let the body decompose naturally. Proponents applaud this alternative for being kinder on the environment and say an added bonus is that they also often cost less (though not always) than going a more traditional route. But while opponents agree that this may be an economical strategy, they argue that the ecological benefits are not so clear cut.
The Concept Of Eco-Friendly Funerals
You probably associate the words, “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust,” with a typical funeral ceremony. But this phrase takes on even greater weight when it comes in the context of a green funeral, which helps the human body transition back to its simplest form in death rather than relying on chemicals and hazardous materials to try to preserve the body. How this approach is done can vary a great deal, depending on how “green” the funeral actually is. This can range from simply asking a funeral home and cemetery to incorporate more eco-friendly choices all the way to a more extreme burial and/or cremation that is done at home without any professional assistance.
Regardless of which end of the spectrum appeals to you, keep in mind that this is not a new trend, but rather a return to a way of the past. Such natural funerals were common before the Civil War, and are in fact still widely popular in Great Britain. Further, the Jewish faith has long practiced such a simplified approach to burying their deceased, using a wooden casket and skipping the embalming process.
The Need To Go Green
More people of all religions in the United States today are beginning to explore socially-conscious alternatives to some of the rituals that currently exist in traditional funerals that can cause a negative impact on our environment. Consider these facts:
- Critics charge that U.S. cemeteries build caskets, grave liners and vaults with enough metal each year to rebuild the Golden Gate Bridge, and with enough concrete to build a two-lane highway that could stretch from New York all of the way to Detroit.
- They also point out that close to a million gallons of toxic embalming fluid is used annually to preserve bodies that are buried in the ground in American cemeteries.
- In addition, the EPA lists companies that manufacture caskets as high on their list of those who generate dangerous chemical waste. This is because of the chemical sprays use to cover the casket frames.
- Environmentalist point out the irony in a system that puts the living at risk while trying to protect and preserve the bodies of those who are already dead.