Posts Tagged ‘green burial’
I am happy to report that the answer is finally, YES!
The Green Burial Council in California recently approved Roselawn Memorial Park for green burials. You can now be buried in Illinois without a casket, without embalming, without anything but a shroud if you want.
I do not personally think that a green burial ground has to be approved by the Green Burial Council, but they have some strict standards that make sense, and their mission is great. In a previous life, I worked in the architectural world, and saw first-hand what it was like dealing with the logistics of becoming LEED certified, and know how hard it can be. Additionally, it is very expensive to become “Certified Organic”. I think it’s worthwhile to recognize any cemetery or burial product willing to become more natural, and I will support any company that tries to be better.
Here is their information. They do not seem to have a working website yet. I will keep you posted and update after I contact them directly.
Roselawn Memorial Park – Hybrid Cemetery
924 South 6th Street
Springfield IL 62703
This image is taken from Nature’s Casket (.com).
You may be asking… why would I want to? The answer is… you might save some money and go through a therapeutic process of building a casket with family and friends.
In 2003, Mother Earth News, wrote this article with instructions on how to build a plain, wooden casket:
Here is a tapered casket you could build from wikiHow: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Coffin.
These clever folks at Casket Furniture charge for design plans. Buy a simple, plain wooden box downloadable plan here for $40: http://www.casketfurniture.com/casket_plans.php.
Or, you can click here and get plans for free from Eco Coffins (.com): http://www.eco-coffins.com/page6.htm.
Here is a build-it-yourself coffin kit from the appropriately named website Build It Yourself Coffin Kit (.com): http://buildityourselfcoffinkit.com/. $800
Or, you can get a very similar unassembled kit for around $475 from Nature’s Casket: http://www.naturescasket.com/Unassembled.html. Assembled caskets are about $200 more. They use sustainably harvested wood, minimal amounts of metal nails, nontoxic glue, and raw linseed oil (all readily biodegradable.)
One other eco kit $499 + shipping: http://www.arkwoodcaskets.com/ (toxin free glue, 6 pieces of wood)
I found this local company on-line. They have some green casket options, and offer free delivery to Chicago. It looks like their woven caskets will run you a little over $1,000 with tax and shipping.
1030 East Northwest Highway (Route 14)
Mount Prospect, Illinois 60056
Phone – 877/368.7005
Open 24 hours a day
Free next day delivery
Their caskets accepted at all funeral homes, by Federal Law
All caskets made in U.S.A.
Visit Their Chicago Area Show Room:
Illinois Casket Depot
1030 East Northwest Highway (Route 14)
Mount Prospect, Illinois 60056
Not Chicago, but not that far. Hippensteel Funeral Home is willing to coordinate with Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette, Indiana for natural burials.
From Spring Vale’s website:
“We have lots available in our conventional sections as well our Preserve for natural burial. We are very proud to mention that Spring Vale Cemetery was the first natural burial preserve in the State of Indiana and in the midwest. The natural setting there suggests a feeling of… “the good ole days” with prairie grass and wooded areas. Check out The Preserve page for more information.” (http://www.springvale-cemetery.com/the-preserve.aspx)
Hippensteel Funeral Home (Member of the Green Burial Council): 822 North Ninth Street
Lafayette, Indiana 47904
Spring Vale Cemetery: 2580 Schuyler Ave . Lafayette, Indiana 47905 765/742.7028 . www.springvale-cemetery.com
Have you ever worked with Hippensteel? How was your experience? How ’bout Spring Vale Cemetery? We are very interested in hearing from clients who can report back experiences to our readers. Comment below or send us a direct e-mail in our “Contact” section.
From the jacket of Grave Matters by Mike Harris:
“A typical 10-acre swatch of cemetery ground contains enough coffin wood to construct 40 houses; nearly 1,000 tons of casket steel; 20,000 tons of vault concrete; and enough toxic embalming fluid to fill a backyard swimming pool.”
Whoa, Nelly. Sheesh.
Green Burial News
We can do this in Chicago!
From today’s Portland Tribune on-line:
“Southwest Portland’s River View Cemetery, a final resting place for many of the city’s elite, has agreed to allow “natural burial” throughout its grounds. Starting June 24, anyone buying a plot can be buried without a concrete vault, without embalming and, if they choose, without a casket, says David Noble, the cemetery’s executive director…
…Other cemeteries around the country have designated small areas for natural burials, or are creating new green burial grounds in pristine undeveloped areas, Beal says. “River View is saying ‘we can do it cemetery-wide.’ That’s huge. It’s maximizing access to a natural option, immediately.”
The question is, which cemetery will step up and create hybrid grounds? Or, which landowner will take the necessary steps to convert their space to green. If the country of England, which is about the size of Louisiana, can have over 100 natural burial locations… why can’t Chicago have one?!! The UK is on the forefront of the green burial world, and America is just starting to get on this trend. Sadly, many, many funeral homes are terrified of this movement and will do what they can to slow the process. It reminds me of when organic food first showed up in local healthfood stores. Big conventional markets did not know what to do about these organic stores and blew them off claiming that their food was just as good as organic food. After a while, they realized that a profit could be made from giving people good products, and now we have organic food at Wal-Mart and Jewel. It is amazing how far we have come. Now, the question is, which brilliant Chicago funeral directors are on board with this? Which funeral homes will offer green services? Keep Wake the Memory posted! I will do my best to report on anything that I find.
Illinois already has a guideline in place for someone who wants to get this rolling: (No outer container is required if the grave is at least 18 inches deep.)
(410 ILCS 5/) Burial of Dead Bodies Act.
(410 ILCS 5/1) (from Ch. 21, par. 251)
Sec. 1. This Act shall be known and may be cited as the Burial of Dead Bodies Act.
(Source: P.A. 84‑405.)
(410 ILCS 5/2) (from Ch. 21, par. 252)
Sec. 2. (a) All dead human bodies or the remains of persons interred in the earth within this State which are not encased in a concrete, fiberglass, or other similar hardback outer enclosure shall have a cover of not less than 18 inches of earth at the shallowest point over the receptacle in which such body or remains are placed.
(b) Any person who knowingly buries a dead human body or the remains of a person in violation of this Act is guilty of a petty offense.
(c) No home rule unit, as defined in Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution, may change, alter or amend in any way the provisions contained in this Act, and it is declared to be the law of this State, pursuant to subsections (h) and (i) of Section 6 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution, that powers and functions authorized by this Act are the subjects of exclusive State jurisdiction, and no such powers or functions may be exercised concurrently, either directly or indirectly, by any home rule unit.
(Source: P.A. 86‑293.)
UK Burial Grounds listing: http://www.naturaldeath.org.uk/index.php?page=natural-burial-grounds-list
From the UPI.com article: ‘Green’ burials becoming popular published on June 14, 2010
“The National Funeral Directors Association doesn’t discourage the practice, but says there are questions to be considered, the Chronicle reported.
“Because green funerals are an emerging alternative to traditional funeral practices, some questions have not yet been answered, such as whether there are any long-term effects on the environment,”
the organization says in a pamphlet distributed to members.”
(My favorite part about this quote is that it is completely isolated from the other pamphlet text — and we should also consider that we already know that some “traditional funeral practices” are far from great for the environment.)
I came across this transcript of a story by Bob Edwards (I miss Bob Edwards in the morning!) for NPR’s Morning Edition. I was struck by the fact that this first broadcasted in 1997. Wow, I feel like we have not come very far with Home Funerals in Illinois. But, you know, the overall green movement took a little while to catch on here in Chicago. Maybe now that it is becoming commonplace to see things like Seventh Generation laundry detergent at Target and photovoltaic solar panels on roofs in Bucktown — we can begin to consider the concept of a home funeral in Chi-Town.
Here is the story. It is along the same theme as the post I wrote yesterday:
The story mentions Lisa Carlson, and I happened to just receive her book Caring for the Dead in the mail yesterday. I will review it after I finish reading the Illinois section. There are also updates on the laws written in the book on the website: www.funerals.org.
Here is a link to a site that covers home funerals and offers a downloadable guide: http://undertakenwithlove.org/
I kind of wanted to jump up and down and yell “ooh, ooh, ooh” when I found this site. This is what I have been looking for! Bring the home funeral practice to Chicago (or anywhere in Illinois to start).
The whole process of home funerals reminds me of home births. In the old days, babies were born at home and midwives were brought in to assist women in their birth journeys. The death process can be viewed in an unconventional way, too. We do not have to embalm or cremate. We can opt to place our loved ones remains in a simple wooden or biodegradable box and transport it to a sacred land to be buried. It does not have to be as complicated (or as expensive) as the funeral industry would like for us to believe. We do not have to hire an undertaker to come haul the remains on a metal gurney and place them in a sterile box in a sterile room.
We can take as much time as we need to say good-bye to our loved one at home, in a safe, special, secure, private place. Perhaps it is time to revisit our laws in Illinois, and move forward with new legislation and introduce new (or in this case, old) ways of caring for our loved ones after they pass.
Click this link for a touching news story about a woman in Minnesota who lost her husband and became an advocate for home funerals. We are talking about saving thousands of dollars and choosing how you leave this world. Here is a link to the story: http://kstp.com/news/stories/S1456501.shtml?cat=1
If you are already working in the home funeral business here, let me know and I will interview you for this blog. What do you think about home funerals?