Final 'Green' Frontier: Cemeteries

Increasingly popular embalming- and casket-free option freaked locals out
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2009 11:53 AM CST
Final 'Green' Frontier: Cemeteries
Brad Frost of St. Michaels, Md., looks for a headstone to place a wreath in Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008, in Arlington, Va.   (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

As the green movement contemplates the afterlife, more funeral directors are seeing demand for a sendoff without the embalming and sturdy coffins of traditional burials, the Wall Street Journal reports. Natural burials won't necessarily put funeral directors out of business: Yes, simple shrouds are available, but so is a $300 "Himalayan rock salt" urn that "will dissolve within four hours when placed in water."

In one Georgia community, the ick factor of the unconventional proved a stumbling block. Macon residents, squicked out at the unsubstantiated idea that decomposing bodies would contaminate the water supply, voted in November for a measure to require leak-proof coffins. But the movement has taken off elsewhere. Says the director of the Green Burial Council: "I get a lot of calls from people thinking it's a groovy alternative to opening a bed-and-breakfast." (More green products stories.)

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