Burying your carbon footprint

An interesting story dropped in my lap this week. I saw an event was being held on MU’s campus about “green burial practices”. Bill Goddard, cemetery operator for Green Acres Cemetery spoke to local Sierra Club members about green burial, which requires that everything going in the ground must be biodegradable.

This immediately sparked my interest because a couple months ago I read a fascinating article in Whole Living magazine that explained the environmental impact of modern burial and cremation practices. It says more than five million gallons of embalming fluid is used each year in the U.S.—enough to fill 8 Olympic pools. Also, just one cremation uses the energy equivalent of driving 500 miles in a car.

Wow. I consider myself an environmentally conscious person, however, I’d never thought about all of the wasted resources and energy from burial and cremation. And I’m sure most people are as oblivious as I was because these traditions are so ingrained in our society. I mean seriously, who’s going to think, “Oh that is such a waste of resources!” when they’re watching a loved-one being buried in the ground??

That being said, I do think green burial makes sense. After-all, we’ll be dead anyway right? And as Goddard says, it’s the way things were done for thousands of years.

When I interviewed Goddard he said the main reason green burial is better is simply because you’re returning to nature. Considering climate change and our lack of resources, a return to nature doesn’t sound so bad.