Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Green End to a Green Life

Today we visited Fernwood Cemetery in Mill Valley, one of the country's handful of green cemeteries. Green burial is so simple - no embalming fluid, no concrete vault, no elaborate grounds. You're simply put in the earth, either in a shroud, a pine box or a wicker casket, on a hillside - no chemicals, no bulldozers. The graves are dug by hand - takes 5 guys a few hours. When the land is "full," it will be turned over to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, whose lands are adjacent to the cemetery, and put back into permanent parkland. For now, it's being restored, eucalyptus trees removed, native plants reintroduced.

I haven't independently confirmed these stats, but this is what we learned in the presentation before our tour of the grounds.

In one year, in the US, conventional burials result in the burying of:

- 30 million tons of hardwood
- 104 tons of steel
- 2,700 tons of copper/bronze
- 1.6 million tons of concrete
- 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid

This is every single year. The figures on cremation are equally disturbing. Again, I haven't doublechecked this on my own, but we heard that the energy required to burn up one body could power a car for 4,300 miles. If that's true, it's crazy!

For me, the only option I can consider for the disposition of my dead body is one that allows me to be returned to the earth, to be composted. For this reason, I'm very seriously considering buying a plot ahead of time - one I could share with Joe, in the shadow of Mt. Tam. There is a lot more to learn about this subject, but I was tremendously excited to think that I really could find a way to actually decompose, feed the earth, in a way consistent with my values and how I live my life.

For more info about green burial, go to: http://www.greenburials.org/
For more info on Fernwood Cemetery, http://foreverfernwood.com/index.html

5 comments:

wheresdyrwaldo said...

Yo, Ariane,

Like I told Joe yesterday, I'll be happy to bury your sorry asses for free in my back yard, should you kick yer buckets before I kick mine.

And I'll dig the hole by hand, making it a pretty green operation. (But I'll need to borrow your shovel to do it.)

hehe

Paul

Heather said...

You aren't allowed to bury people in a back yard. It's gotta be a cemetery which is why we have to change the laws.

Ariane said...

Actually, darlings, according to what I learned on Sunday, a cemetery is defined as any place where 5 or more people are buried. If that's not total bullshit, all we need to do is bury 5 of us at once and we're golden! :)

Ariane said...

Actually, darlings, according to what I learned on Sunday, a cemetery is defined as any place where 5 or more people are buried. If that's not total bullshit, all we need to do is bury 5 of us at once and we're golden! :)

wheresdyrwaldo said...

Heather,

Most times when the old lady and me bury people out back, we do it on dark, moonless nights ... and we do it all quiet-like.

Shhhhhhhh..... Don't go tellin no one.

And so far, none-a-them nosey police have come a-sniffin'. They got no idea what we're doin up on our hill. Besides, it ain't none-a their beeswax, you ask me.

But one thing's been buggin us lately. Them bodies are mostly gone. Just some pieces parts left in them holes. And our dogs are lookin' more-n-a-little chubby. I think maybe they've been a-eatin them bodies.

I'm tired-a those bitches sneaken meals behind our backs. Makes em less hungry for blood when visitors come a-callin.

But then again, guess that means them cops won't catch us neither way. And I guess that means there ain't no problems with us buryin' ya'll out back, Ariane, if'n ya'll are wantin us to.

And it won't cost ya'll not a nickel. And no dimes, neither.

Old Pa Dyrwal