Harboring no expectations about an afterlife life, I’m hoping that my body can really go back to dirt. So, I was tickled when I saw that News of the Weird Chuck Sheppard had covered the topic of green burial in his items for the week of 25 November 2007. I have sometimes suggested that I’d be glad to be buried un-embalmed under some fruit or nut tree; someday, then, some animal might eat me.
As an alternative to burial, cremation is no longer green enough, say environmentalists, because it releases smoke and mercury, and thus the industry is considering “promession,” in which the body is frozen in liquid nitrogen to minus-320 degrees (F) and then shaken until it disintegrates into powder. For green burials, the United States has at least six cemeteries that require biodegradable casings and for bodies to be free of embalming chemicals. The Forever Fernwood cemetery in Mill Valley, Calif., goes even further, according to an October Los Angeles Times story, banning grave markers, but, said the owner, “We issue the family a Google map with the GPS coordinates” so they can find their loved one. [Los Angeles Times, 10-28-07; Evening Standard (London), 10-10-07]
Now, I get the hygienic reasons for burial rules, but I think most of them can addressed. For example, just dig the hole deeply enough, and there won’t be much chance of Fido coming home carrying one of my limbs.
I’m going to check into these cemeteries (ahem, not “check in” as one does at a hotel, at least not right away).