Green dying becoming a trend in green living - AmericaNowNews.com

'Green' funerals becoming more popular

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Hybrid cars … solar power … organic foods … more and more Americans are living "green." And some of them are now also choosing to die green.

Here is surprising news about the business of dying. The National Funeral Directors Association says more and more "baby boomers" are making funeral choices based on 21st-century values. Many boomers are now taking a more natural approach to internment. In fact, eco-friendly burial service providers can now be found in almost 40 states.

The Green Burial Council reports that one in five Americans prefers a burial that allows their body to decompose naturally and be absorbed into the earth without harming it.

Shari Wolf is a green funeral director in Manhattan Beach, California. She says the chemicals and materials used in traditional burials can be damaging to the environment.

"With the conventional practices, we embalm every year here in the United States over 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde-based embalming fluid, over a million board feet of hardwoods and over 1.6 million tons of concrete in the vaults. They're staggering numbers," says Wolf.

She says by choosing to be buried without chemical preservation and using biodegradable materials, people feel a greater connection to the cycle of life.

"Some people see this as a way to go back into our earth and, if you will, to nourish a tree and become part of nature again," says Wolf.

Ruth Hayward is dying of cancer. She and her husband Bob talked with America Now about the journey they're taking.

"The cancer that I have, it's the most vicious brain cancer there is," says Ruth Hayward.

As an anthropologist, Ruth traveled to exotic locations with Bob, and immersed herself in global issues.

"I was the senior advisor in ending violence against women and girls for UNICEF in the UN," says Ruth.

As in life, Ruth finds comfort in embracing a final path that reflects the values they've lived their lives by.

"I know I didn't want the cold chemical approach because I would much rather be a rose or whatever," says Ruth. "So we started asking around, looking around, and that's how we arrived here. At this juncture of, well maybe you can have a more natural funeral."

Shari Wolf says there are a number of options for green burial containers like pine, cardboard or simply cloth.

"This is a shroud we've used with lots of families," says Wolf. "It's a very simple shroud, but it's very elegant." 

"Neither of us was interested in having some big shrine, formal shrine type thing because where we are is in your heart, not that hole in the ground," notes Bob Hayward.

And with simplicity comes lower costs. Green burials usually cost less than $3,000, compared to conventional burials, which typically cost between $10,000 to $70,000.

While it's a growing movement, green burial sites are still limited across the country.

Contact the cemeteries in your area to find out if they will allow a natural burial without a cement vault and order a biodegradable container either through a green funeral provider or online.

"It's my life and it's my death and if that's the way I want it, that's the way I want it," says Ruth.                            

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