First, green burial advocates for the use of resources in a proper way. This means keeping the earth free from poisons of conventional embalming fluids, adhesives and other material used in conventional burial. Green burial is also about keeping our natural resources for future generations by not putting them in the ground. Let us look at burial vaults. Why do we need vaults and why do we need vaults lined in precious metals? We don’t. The conventional industry tells us that vaults keep the ground level in cemeteries. If buried properly in a shrouded or in an eco-friendly coffin and the ground mounded up, the grave should be just fine.
Green burial also allows us to take up the traditions of the past, and move forward into the future in a gentle way. We take up the simple, traditional, and loving process of our ancestors who bathed and dressed their loved ones at the time of death. How much more simple it is to follow the greener and traditional path in burial than it is to follow the conventional means with their embalmed bodies, fancy caskets and vaults for us to keep our precious treasure in. Our treasure lives in our hearts and in the stories we tell our children, not in the tombs of our loved ones. We need to be honest with ourselves, we are organic beings and at death we return back to the earth.
Finally, green burial is about preserving the land for generations to come. In a conservation burial, the cemetery lies juxtaposed to a certified conservation land. Other certified green burials are not situated in this way, but are no less dedicated to preserving the land. They take the stand that in this place, we take care of our loved ones and preserve this land, natural and free for the generations to come. It’s kind of like squatting rights. As long as it is a cemetery, the land remains free from development. In death, we can preserve the land one person and one patch of land at a time.
Last week I stood under the canopy of an oak savanna and felt the timelessness of the sounds and wind around me. Here, I thought I would love to remain until the end of time. Here, I would love to be buried beneath these strong boughs and here, I would love to nurture this ancient and timeless place. Alas, there are no such places yet in Illinois where people can be buried on conservation land. With time and effort, we hope this will change.