You can affordably return to the earth
Some people think cremation is “greener” than burial because cremation generally requires no cemetery space. Actually, when you are speaking of one of the green conservation cemeteries within two hours of New York City, or father upstate, you can be protecting rural property by burying yourself in it. Cemetery laws prohibit highways or shopping malls from coming to land that has deceased people in it, so in using a green cemetery, you are helping to keep gorgeously-wooded, rural properties safe from development. (It may take a moment to bend your mind around this concept.) You can also be buried in a shroud (without a casket) in a green cemetery, something most conventional cemeteries don’t yet allow. No herbicides are used on the grass, as a rule, and the setting of a registered green burial ground is kept much as it was found: wild, natural, frequented by birds, squirrels, and deer.
Folks who bury a family member in a green cemetery are sad a death has occurred, but elated by their participation in an end-of-life ritual that signals a return to the simpler burial practices of 170 years ago. Grave prep is more natural and aesthetically pleasing: no phony Astro-turf covers the displaced soil, and evergreen boughs are available to help decorate or fill. Cemetery workers at Greensprings and Steelmantown let family members lower the casket and all green grounds allow families to slowly shovel soil back into the grave to fill it, if that is their desire. You’ll also never see a grave-worker look harried or check his wristwatch at a green ground. The space is yours and you’ll be given ample graveside time.
Some of our closest friends still might say, “Oh God, just cremate me.” But for those who love nature, history, and old-fashioned ritual, and for those whose custom has always been simple and green (Jews, Muslims among others), it’s a no-brainer: Green burial in a natural burial ground–without an embalming, metal casket or vault–is a gracious, gorgeous, uplifting way to “go.” Still undecided? You might want to watch this film on the very green burial of Steve Sall.