As we learn more about the environmental impact of metal caskets and traditional forms of burial, many people are opting for “green” or “natural” burials. These are burials where no chemicals are used at any stage of the burial. This means no embalming fluid is placed in your body, no vault, and no metal casket. Some natural burial services place a body into the ground wrapped in a shroud or placed inside a non-treated and biodegradable coffin.
Are Traditional Burials Harming the Environment?
The growing popularity of natural burials has been associated with the growing body of evidence highlighting the potential environmental impact associated with a traditional burial where a body is embalmed and placed into a metal casket. Embalming involves filling a body with formaldehyde, phenol, methanol, and glycerin. Formaldehyde is a potential human carcinogen, and can be lethal if a person is exposed to high concentrations, according to Business Insider. In addition to using a troubling combination of potentially dangerous chemicals, traditional burials in the United States use approximately 30 million board feet of hardwood, more than 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, more than 104,000 tons of steel, and 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete each and every year, according to the Berkeley Planning Journal.
Example of a Natural Burial Service in Virginia
Natural burial services are available across the DMV (i.e. DC, Maryland, & Virginia). For example, there is the Cool Spring Natural Cemetery at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia. Cool Spring Natural Cemetery is maintained by the Cistercian monks of Holy Cross Abbey. They believe that the “sacredness of life and the dignity of each human person” is honored by a natural burial since it is effectively returning your body to the earth from which it came. Their natural burial service means that your body is embalmed, your casket will be made of organic material (i.e. not metal), and that there be no vault. A grave is marked with simple engraved stones.
Is a Natural Burial Right for You?
The decision to have a natural burial or a traditional burial is a purely personal decision. There are many reasons to have a traditional burial. For example, you may want to be buried next to family members in a casket. That is perfectly understandable. The key is to have a plan in place so your wishes are respected and you are buried in a manner you prefer.
To discuss your burial plan, and other estate planning issues, contact InSight Law today.