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What is a Green Burial?

Many people these days are making more of an effort to be environmentally – friendly.  Like driving electric vehicles, recycling more often, using more sustainable foods sources, etc. This trend doesn’t stop at death.

Green, or natural burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat. Green burial employs the use of non-toxic and biodegradable shrouds.  There is no concrete vault or liner placed around the casket so the body is in direct contact with the earth.  

Cremation has been the only green alternative here in New Orleans.  Increasing cremation rates shouldn’t come as a surprise, and they’re only going to continue to increase.  Currently in the New Orleans area the cremation rate is 50 percent.  The problem is that cremation is not very green!  Cremating one person requires two to three hours and more than 1,800 degrees of heat.  Environmental analysts have calculated that it is enough energy to release 573 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and enough natural gas to power a car 500 miles. Green Natural burial is by far the only true sustainable burial option.

What we call green burial today, would have been known as traditional burial for all of human history up until the 20th century. In green burial, the deceased is not embalmed with toxic chemicals. Instead the body is either left in its natural state, placed in a burial shroud and then lowered into a shallow grave that gives back to the environment.

The National Funeral Directors Association’s 2017 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study revealed that alternative funeral services are gaining ground nationally. You can expect to see more green funerals and sustainable funeral options becoming even more desired.

Perhaps the most personal reason of all is one where the idea of green burial simply speaks to a person.They might find comfort in their body “returning to nature.”

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