The practice of burying bodies without embalming with toxic chemicals,
encasing in metal or rainforest wood caskets, or cement or plastic outer
vaults—truly body to earth—is timeless, interrupted only over the
past 75 –100 years. Efforts to return to these ancient, eco-friendly
ways are gaining momentum across the country and the few places
elsewhere in the world that recently adopted modern burial practices.
Of particular environmental and health concern is embalming, an invasive
process with no lasting benefits beyond the cosmetic, and which poses a major
health hazard to embalmers who reportedly have an 8-times greater chance
of contracting cancer, leukemia and other blood diseases.
New Hampshire mandates that each town provide burial space for its residents.
Hybrid cemeteries are municipal cemeteries whose Trustees agree to relaxing
policies that require outer burial vaults, the purpose of which is to make lawn
mowing easier. Lawn maintenance, and the use of embalming fluid, herbicides
and pesticides, which pose a significant health hazard to embalmers and cemetery
employees respectively, are not allowed in green burial space. Natural burial is being
welcomed on conservation lands, providing families pristine, natural environments
in which to remember their loved ones while supporting the preservation of intrinsically
valuable lands in perpetuity.
According to Mary Woodsen of the Green Burial Council (updated 2014), each year in 22,500 cemeteries in the US we bury :
- 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid, which includes formaldehyde
- 20 million board feet of hardwoods, including rainforest woods
- 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete
- 17,000 tons of copper and bronze
To learn more about hybrid, conservation and green burial spaces in general,
go to www.greenburialcouncil.org. If you are interested in learning more about
Interested in finding out more about what might go into creating been burial space?
If you are interested in meeting other people in your area who want to start a green burial initiative, we are happy to come to you to do presentations that get everyone in the same room. Contact us to schedule an event or include a table with our information by calling 236-9495.