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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Green burials emerging in Oregon

One of the best ideas in a long while -- putting a stop to a horribly gruesome, insanely overpriced and environmentally catastrophic ritual -- is slowly starting to take off around the country, including in Oregon: "green burials" (i.e., going back to the way we used to handle remains before the Civil War and the advent of using poisons to pickle human remains, the better to sell things to the survivors).

If you or anyone you love plans on passing over someday, you might want to do some exploration and thinking about what should happen to the shell you will leave behind. Do you want that shell to be subjected to ghastly handling and chemicals and then encased in a sealed (for a while, anyway) box so that it becomes putrid and releases those toxins into the groundwater when the box leaks? Or would you prefer something a little less destructive, a lot less expensive, and a whole lot more in alignment with leaving the world better than you found it, or at least not worse?

There are beginning to be good resources on this. One -- and one you can and should support -- is the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Oregon. While they're not up on green burials yet, the more of us who want this sort of thing who join, the sooner they'll step up.

There are beginning to be good books on the subject. A few of the best:
  • The Undertaking (from a pretty conventional family undertaker, ergo, pro-embalming, anti-cremation, but still a superb book and outstanding on the human need for survivors to process the death of a loved one)

  • Curtains
And no list is complete without THAT BOOK (as funeral industry types are prone to call it).

Another Annie Leonard winner

This isn't just an issue of what you put on your body in the bathroom. Functionally, everything you buy in the hair care/cosmetics/personal care aisles might as well be poured straight into the Willamette River, because that's where it all ends up. Might be nice if it weren't so toxic.