Green Cremations and Green Burials
Environmentally conscious Californians considering green burials, I have some good news for you. Even though cremations, when done correctly and responsibly, are already considered kinder to our planet than conventional burials, there are ways to make cremations or green burials even greener and environmentally friendly.
As I have pointed out here before, cremation rates have steadily increased in recent years. Growing numbers of consumers reject conventional burials for various emotional, financial, philosophical and environmental reasons. Cremation is less expensive and appeals to people who don’t like the idea of being buried in a sealed box. For many, the religious teaching of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” carries significance as well.
As for the environmental impact, there are several ways cremations can be made greener. Forgoing embalming is a big one. Removing toxic chemicals from the process keeps them from winding up in the air or in the ground and helps protect funeral home workers by reducing their exposure. (By the way, even though formaldehyde is biodegradable, it is regarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a “known carcinogen.”) Another earth-friendly step is using cremation containers that come from sustainable sources such as fast-growing woods, bamboo or wicker.
Many families choose to bury cremated remains. That can be done in a green way, too. Slowly but surely, green cemeteries are being developed across the country. Natural green burials do not use burial vaults; in fact, they prohibit the use of containers that won’t easily degrade. Also, they don’t use conventional grave markers. The remains are integrated into a natural, seemingly undisturbed setting. Other places offering green burials include “hybrid” grounds that include a section within a conventional cemetery that does not use vaults or other outer burial containers. A recent internet search for green cemeteries in California showed six locations, including Los Angeles and Marin County.
Of course, burying, scattering or keeping cremains are not the only options. Other environmentally-friendly choices are available, including one that is a favorite of ocean lovers. Cremated remains can be mixed into living reefs, which are beehive-shaped underwater forms that become homes to fish and other forms of sea life.
Take some time and research the environmentally-friendly options to find the way that fits you and your family the best. One good place to start is the Green Burial Council. If you have questions. Contact funeral directors at Best Cremation Care.
Best Cremation Care provides affordable cremation services throughout the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland / Alameda, and San Jose / Santa Clara) and Southern California (Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and San Diego County). We are a licensed funeral establishment and have an A+rating from the Better Business Bureau.