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Aug. 22nd, 2008

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damhnade

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http://www.promessa.se/index_en.asp

Aug. 21st, 2008

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damhnade

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Published on Addison County Independent (http://www.addisonindependent.com)
Eco-cemetery public presentation
By Addison Independent
Created Oct 19 2007 - 4:59pm

Special for Sunday, Oct. 19 event

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — For some, concern for the environment is a lifelong passion, but that doesn’t have to be the end of it. A local group is trying to start an eco-cemetery, where the interred are buried in biodegradable caskets without being embalmed, as an alternative to conventional burial methods.

“It’s kind of an ecological alternative to being cremated or having their remains interred in a formal cemetery,” said David Brynn of Bristol. Brynn is chairman of the board of the Watershed Center, which owns the Waterworks Property on Plank Road in Bristol, the possible site of an eco-cemetery. On Sunday, Oct. 21, beginning at 1 p.m. at the law offices of James Dumont, the Watershed Center will host a public presentation on eco-cemeteries and the feasibility of one in Bristol.

The idea began with a class project by University of Vermont graduate Meghan Bannan, a resident of Essex Junction. “It was a good way to stay environmental when you die,” she said.

When Bannan learned about eco-cemeteries during a research project, she became interested in starting one in the area. She discussed it with Brynn, director of Vermont Family Forests and a forester for UVM, and they decided that the former site of the Vergennes waterworks, now owned by the Watershed Center’s board of directors, might be a good site.

The Waterworks Property is a 664-acre plot of land on Plank Road in Bristol under a conservation easement. Bannan and Brynn said using the land as an eco-cemetery is probably acceptable under the terms of the conservation easement, but they aren’t certain yet. “That’s something that has to be looked at in more depth if this goes any further,” Bannan said.

Eco-cemeteries, also called natural burial or green burial sites, are relatively new. Only a handful exist in America, according to Bannan, but there are many more in Europe and Canada. Details vary, but in general, graves are marked with markers native to the landscape like trees, shrubs, or flat stones. In some cases, graves are unmarked and the plots are identified by surveying techniques like a geographic information system (GIS).

In addition to ecological concerns, using a natural burial site is less expensive than burial in a conventional cemetery. According to the National Funeral Director’s Association, the average cost of a funeral is over $6,500, but Bannon said that $2,000 is around the high end for an eco-cemetery burial.

Embalming is not used because the chemicals would seep into the ground without a conventional casket. Formaldehyde, the most common preservative chemical used in embalming, is biodegradable, but it may be a carcinogen according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In the cremation process, when formaldehyde oxidizes it forms formic acid, a byproduct that would be released in the atmosphere.

Natural burial also uses much simpler caskets than most. “I don’t see a need to do that when you’re six feet under,” Bannan said. Bodies in eco-cemeteries are usually buried in a casket made of cardboard or wicker, or simply in a shroud.

Cremation is another relatively common alternative to conventional burial, but Bannan said cremation has its own problems from an environmental perspective. “It uses a lot of energy to cremate a body.”

It is still early in the process of establishing an eco-cemetery in the area. Bannan said that Vermont has no regulations of burials other than a requirement that the body be more than five feet below ground, but they still need to resolve the question of the conservation easement.

Bannan also isn’t sure if there is enough interest in the project for it to go forward, but that is part of the goal of the Oct. 21 presentation: to raise awareness of the idea. “Just getting the knowledge out is the important part,” she said.

Even though the idea is still relatively new in the United States, Brynn said that he sees it as a natural extension of other conservation efforts. “We talk about birds and timber management and trails, let’s talk about one more use of the land.”
my fae

damhnade

An article on a project I've been helping with

Bristol group plans eco-cemetery
Submitted by Addison Independent on October 29, 2007 - 4:08pm.
10/29/07

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

BRISTOL — For some, concern for the environment is a lifelong passion. But the end of life doesn’t have to be the end of one’s commitment to a healthy ecosystem.

A local group is trying to start an eco-cemetery, where the interred are buried in biodegradable caskets without being embalmed, as an alternative to conventional burial methods.

“It’s kind of an ecological alternative to being cremated or having their remains interred in a formal cemetery,” said David Brynn of Bristol. Brynn is chairman of the board of the Watershed Center, which owns the Waterworks Property on Plank Road in Bristol, the possible site of an eco-cemetery. On Sunday, the Watershed Center hosted a public presentation on eco-cemeteries and the feasibility of one in Bristol.

The idea began with a class project by University of Vermont graduate Meghan Bannan, a resident of Essex Junction. “It is a good way to stay environmental when you die,” she said of eco-cemeteries.

About 15 people attended Sunday’s presentation and were interested in starting an eco-cemetery, Bannan said. “The people who were there were definitely open to the idea,” she said.

When Bannan learned about eco-cemeteries during a research project last year, she became interested in starting one in the area. She discussed it with Brynn, director of Vermont Family Forests and a forester for UVM. They decided that the former site of the Vergennes waterworks, now owned by the Watershed Center’s board of directors, might be a good spot.

The Waterworks Property is a 664-acre plot of land on Plank Road in Bristol under a conservation easement. Bannan and Brynn said using part of the land as an eco-cemetery is probably acceptable under the terms of the conservation easement, but they aren’t certain yet. “That’s something that has to be looked at in more depth if this goes any further,” Bannan said.

WHATS AN ECO-CEMETERY

Eco-cemeteries, also called natural burial or green burial sites, are relatively new. Only a handful exist in the United States, according to Bannan, but there are many more in Europe and Canada. Details vary, but in general, graves are marked with markers native to the landscape like trees, shrubs, or flat stones. In some cases, graves are unmarked and the plots are identified by surveying techniques or with a computerized geographic information system, or GIS.

In addition to ecological concerns, using a natural burial site is less expensive than burial in a conventional cemetery. According to the National Funeral Director’s Association, the average cost of a funeral is more than $6,500, but Bannan said that $2,000 is around the high end for an eco-cemetery burial.

Embalming is not used because the chemicals would seep into the ground without a conventional casket. Formaldehyde, the most common preservative chemical used in embalming, is biodegradable, but it may be a carcinogen according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In the cremation process, when formaldehyde oxidizes it forms formic acid, a byproduct that would be released in the atmosphere.

Natural burial also uses much simpler caskets than the metal or hardwood caskets used in conventional burials. “I don’t see a need to do that when you’re six feet under,” Bannan said. Bodies in eco-cemeteries are usually buried in a casket made of cardboard or wicker, or simply in a shroud.

Cremation is another relatively common alternative to conventional burial, but Bannan said cremation has its own problems from an environmental perspective. “It uses a lot of energy to cremate a body,” she pointed out.

It is still early in the process of establishing an eco-cemetery in Bristol. Bannan said that Vermont has no regulations of burials other than a requirement that the body be more than five feet below ground, but they still need to resolve the question of the conservation easement at the Waterworks Property.

Bannan also isn’t sure if there is enough interest in the project to go forward, but that was part of the goal of the Oct. 21 presentation: to raise awareness of the idea. “They really looked forward to possibly doing this,” she said after the event. “Just getting the knowledge out is the important part.”

Even though the idea is still relatively new in the United States, Brynn said that he sees eco-cemeteries as a natural extension of other conservation efforts.

“We talk about birds and timber management and trails, let’s talk about one more use of the land,” he said

Aug. 20th, 2008

my fae

damhnade

In the news today

Abandoned ashes piling up at funeral homes
As cremations rise, more families are leaving relatives' remains behind
Associated Press
updated 6:22 p.m. ET, Tues., Aug. 19, 2008
BOSTON - The abandoned ashes are stacked floor to ceiling in the basement of the Graham, Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors, tucked neatly on wooden shelves and tables and in an unused dumbwaiter.

Someone loved the people once, enough to have their bodies cremated — then promptly forgot or decided they didn't want them.

"The fact is, if no one claims them, there's nothing you can do with them," said funeral director Peter Stefan, of Worcester. "You can't throw them away. They could be Uncle Freddy's ashes. They could come and sue you."

Storage or disposal of abandoned ashes is a growing national problem, as the number of cremations is on the rise. Even in states that allow the burial or scattering of abandoned ashes, some funeral homes store them for years, hoping one day to place them in the hands of a relative.

Most states set minimum storage times
A majority of states have laws setting minimum waiting periods for funeral homes to store unclaimed cremated remains, ranging from 60 days to four years. About a dozen states have no laws or regulations.

Massachusetts' regulations require funeral directors to contact next of kin and hold remains for six months. If the ashes remain unclaimed, the funeral home must contact the family by certified mail and wait another 60 days before disposing of the ashes.

Funeral directors worry the regulations don't carry the protections of a law, so they have been holding on to the ashes — just in case.

They've succeeded in getting a bill to Gov. Deval Patrick's desk requiring funeral homes hold unclaimed ashes for 12 months — after which they could be buried in a common grave, crypt or scattered in a cemetery.

The bill requires funeral homes to keep permanent records of the remains and frees them of legal liability. An aide for Patrick said he's reviewing the legislation.

David Walkinshaw, spokesman for Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association, said the vast majority of funeral homes in the state, including his own, have unclaimed remains.

"There needs to be a dignified way to finally put these people to rest and allow the funeral homes to do that under the law," said Walkinshaw, who has ashes dating back 30 to 40 years.

Cremations more popular than ever
In 1975, just 6 percent of deaths in the United States resulted in cremations. By 2006, the number had grown to nearly 34 percent, according to the Cremation Association of North America. That could increase to more than half of all deaths by 2025.

The popularity of cremations varies greatly by state, from less than 10 percent of all deaths in Alabama and Mississippi to more than 60 percent in Hawaii, Nevada, Washington and Oregon. In Massachusetts, about 30 percent of those who die are cremated.

Unfortunately, some families may not realize that cremation isn't the end of the process, according to Dennis Werner, a member of the Cremation Association board and general manager of St. Michael's Cemetery and Crematory in the New York City borough of Queens.

"You'll hear people say all the time, 'Just cremate me and throw me in the river,'" Werner said. "The more the word gets out that cremation is not final disposition, that something still needs to be done ... the better off we will be."

While some of the forgotten ashes in the basement of his funeral home date to the 1890s, some are more recent, Stefan said.

He recalled cremating the remains of a stillborn baby and giving the small brass urn to the mother. When the mother moved, she left the urn behind. The new tenant discovered it and returned the urn to Stefan, who was able to track down the mother.

"I told her what happened, she said, 'I'll call you back,'" Stefan said. "That was four or five years ago."
my fae

damhnade

(no subject)

The modern concept of natural burial began in the UK in 1993 and has since spread across the globe. According the Centre for Natural Burial, http://naturalburial.coop there are now several hundred natural burial grounds in the United Kingdom and half a dozen sites across the USA, with others planned in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and even China.

A natural burial allows you to use your funeral as a conservation tool to create, restore and protect urban green spaces.

The Centre for Natural Burial provides comprehensive resources supporting the development of natural burial and detailed information about natural burial sites around the world. With the Natural Burial Co-operative newsletter you can stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the rapidly growing trend of natural burial including, announcements of new and proposed natural burial sites, book reviews, interviews, stories and feature articles.

The Centre for Natural Burial
my fae

damhnade

(no subject)

'Green funerals' feature biodegradable coffins

PORTLAND, Oregon (AP) -- Cynthia Beal wants to be an Oregon cherry tree after she dies. She has everything to make it happen -- a body, a burial site and a biodegradable coffin.

"It is composting at its best," said Beal, owner of The Natural Burial Company, which will sell a variety of eco-friendly burial products when it opens in January, including the Ecopod, a kayak-shaped coffin made out of recycled newspapers.

Biodegradable coffins are part of a larger trend toward "natural" burials, which require no formaldehyde embalming, cement vaults, chemical lawn treatments or laminated caskets. Advocates say such burials are less damaging to the environment.

Cremation was long considered more environmentally friendly than burials in graveyards, but its use of fossil fuels has raised concerns.

Eco-friendly burials have been popular in Britain for years, but industry experts say it's starting to catch on in the U.S., where "green" cemeteries hosting natural burials have sprouted up in California, Florida, New York, South Carolina and Texas.

The majority of eco-friendly burial products come from overseas -- including the Ecopod, which is made in the United Kingdom -- although there are a few domestic makers. Options range from natural-fiber shrouds to fair-trade bamboo caskets lined with unbleached cotton. There are also more traditional-looking handcrafted coffins made of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The market is potentially huge. U.S. funeral homes generate an estimated $11 billion in revenue annually and that figure is sure to grow as baby boomers age.

There are already specialty funerals, featuring caskets with custom paint jobs and urns with the insignia of a favorite team. Industry experts say eco-friendly funerals are just an extension of such personalized end-of-life planning.

Biodegradable containers cost from around $100 for a basic cardboard box up to more than $3,000 for a handcrafted, hand-painted model.

"It's hard to tell if it's a fad or if it's here to stay," said Bob Fells, of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. "We are certainly positioning ourselves that if this is what the community wants, we are ready to serve them."

The Green Burial Council is working on certification programs to verify the commitment and quality of providers who say they are going natural.

"What we are trying to do is to make sure this concept doesn't get 'green-washed' down the drain," said Joe Sehee, the council's founder and executive director.
my fae

damhnade

(no subject)

Australia's Lismore Council will launch in July the country's fourth "natural burial site," featuring biodegradable coffins that can be buried deep in the outback at a spot personally chosen by family members and precisely located by its GPS coordinates.
my fae

damhnade

books

Stiff by Mary Roach
Cemetery Stories by Katherine Ramsland
my fae

damhnade

random stuff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_burial

The Museum of Funeral Customs in Springfield, IL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZj4-JrP36s

http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/
my fae

damhnade

A work in progress

This community is for news, articles and random thoughts related to more environmentally-friendly ways to dispose of a body after death. Mostly created for my own selfish reasons, I wish to track the movement and stay up-to-date on the goings-on and create a repository of articles.