Green Burials

Green Burials
November 13, 2017 Christina Mullin

This may come as a surprise to you but many people are now choosing a natural burial in a serene piece of countryside or forest, where the grave is more likely to be marked with a tree than a headstone. Natural or Green burials are environmentally friendly, and more so than conventional burials. Natural burials use sustainable materials, omit the use of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde in the embalming process and use biodegradable coffins or burial shrouds which soil microbes break down, rendering the body part of the soil. In many ways, green burials are simply a return to the way things used to be done. The principle behind this practice is to follow the natural cycle of life by returning the body to the earth and embracing the philosophy of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

After reading a piece by Richard Conniff in the Op-ed section of the New York Times, I loved the idea of having Mole, Mr. Toad and the rest as companions on the travels I will make one day into the darkness of the “Wildwood”: “Years ago, doing some research in England on moles — the burrowing kind — I paid a visit to the grave of Kenneth Grahame. As author of “The Wind in the Willows,” Grahame was the creator of the fictional Mole, a mild-mannered character beloved by children everywhere for messing about in boats, bumbling dimly into the Wild Wood and otherwise misadventuring with Ratty, Badger and Mr. Toad of Toad Hall.

There were plenty of things poignant about the grave. But what struck me most was that all of Grahame’s characters would have been at home there. Holywell Cemetery, off a busy road in the heart of Oxford, is both a graveyard and a wildlife refuge. Footpaths wind through shrubby undergrowth, and the graves support a natural succession of snowdrops, daffodils and so on through the seasons. Moles no doubt burrow there, and toads do whatever it is that toads do. (But please tell me it involves tootling about in motorcars and flinging coins to urchins.)” Read the whole piece:
Art is by Joohee Yoon

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In addition to planet friendly Green Burials, did you know…that several historic graveyards, such as Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn/NY, are home to dozens of bee hives, marketing the honey under the “Sweet Hereafter” label. The Historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., sold $6,000 worth of “Rest in Bees” honey last fall!

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