I was talking to my mum last night. She wanted to discuss what would happen should she “pop her clogs” as she put it. She only 71 but as she said, nobody knows when it’s going to happen and these things need to be discussed. She also asked what I wanted to happen should I be the one to go first.
Not a nice subject by any means but it’s better everybody knows what each of us wants so there’s no disputing it when we’re no longer here to have our say.
Personally I want to be buried in a wood, in a cardboard coffin, preferably with a tree planted on top of me, although that isn't always possible. Mum said she’d honour my wishes although she felt the cardboard box bit seemed a bit mean and would have liked a proper gravestone but understood that I don’t have the same views as her. As far as I’m concerned, lavish coffins are a waste of resources and cemeteries are a waste of ground. Cremations may seem like the more environmentally friendly solution in that there’s no wasted space but they cause a lot of air pollution.
When a person is cremated they literally “go up in smoke”, spewing heavy metals, hydrogen chloride, carbon dioxide, furans and dioxins into the air.
Mum wants to be cremated. I explained the eco consequences to her and that there are alternatives to a conventional coffin, which is responsible for the majority of the pollutants, mostly because the linings, handles and nameplate are made of synthetic materials, many of which are plastics. Bamboo and wicker caskets are a good alternative, preferably lined with natural fabric and no foam (do you really need to be comfy when you’re dead?). They should also have removable handles. Mum was happy to go along with that, as long as she wasn’t put in a cardboard box!
Conventional burials also pollute. Regular embalming fluid of the type used by the majority of
As well as the pollution issue, there’s the space they take up. An increasing amount of our precious woodlands are being torn down in order to make space for dead bodies and lumps of carved stone. While it’s true that some cemeteries are home to several species of wild animal, many are just bare lawns with row upon row of jagged, marble monuments staring bleakly at a vast nothingness.
When it comes to woodland burials, there are now around 200 hundred sites in the
No embalming fluid is used for woodland funerals and coffins must be biodegradable. To make the whole funeral event even more eco friendly, using a horse and cart to transport the coffin can generally be arranged, as can motorbike drawn hearses. I quite like the idea of a horse and cart myself, preferably decorated with wild flowers.
A list of natural burial sites can be found here: The Association of Natural Burial Grounds.
Once I can afford it, I’m buying my plot ready for the off! I'd like a nice one, close to where bluebells grow :-)
Sharon J xx
[UPDATE: Mum called this evening to say she'd changed her mind - she wants to go in the woods, too. In fact, she even wants us to share a grave if that's possible, or at least be buried close together. That's one more convert :) ]