Conservation burial occurs in a nature preserve that allows low-impact, mindful, natural burial. This burial method is the most ecologically and socially responsible end-of-life option available. The practice of burying a casketed or shrouded body into the earth reduces carbon emissions and end-of-life expenses while fostering local ecosystems and increasing quality of life (including grief) for the whole family. By partnering with an environmental organization a conservation easement protects the native landscape forever from development, contamination and abuse. With each conservation burial an investment is made to our natural home, creating a living memorial to be enjoyed by everyone, forever.
As we look at the landscape of today’s modern cemetery and funerary customs, a purist might ask how we came to be in this place. Today’s conventional cemeteries take us back in time and serve as a place to remember and memorialize those who no longer walk among us. Unfortunately, since the early 20th century, they have also served as landfills for concrete, plastic, steel, hardwood, endangered tropical woods, formaldehyde and many other foreign contaminants that are present in today’s manufacture of deathcare products. Before the popularity of the conventional cemetery, we buried our own loved ones. We held their funerals in the home and buried them nearby in a very natural “dust to dust” manner. The casket, if used, was generally handmade of locally harvested wood and cloth and the body was not embalmed. A grassroots resurgence of this burial method is happening across America and is already popular around the world.
Isn’t cremation the greenest funeral option? No, conservation burial is the most eco-friendly form of body disposition. Cremation takes up to four hours at temperatures ranging from 1,400 – 2,100 F, or 760 – 1,150 C. With the amount of fuel used for one cremation, a driver could fuel an auto with enough energy to drive 4,800 miles/7,725 kilometers. The cremation process includes the emission of harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide as well as the contaminants carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen fluoride, dioxins and furans. If pacemakers and dental mercury are consumed in the flames, cadmium and lead are also released into the air. Although cremation is generally less expensive than burial, the environmental costs have not been considered.
A natural burial ground is just that, natural. It is a place where people are buried free from contaminants in a manner that will encourage a natural renewal of the earth. Biodegradable caskets and shrouds can be used and methods are taken to ensure a minimal carbon footprint during the process. Natural burial grounds protect the earth, and in the case of a conservation burial ground, protect endangered or fragile lands to ensure a natural green space for future generations.
Conservation burial will become available as early as spring 2018 in Tennessee at Larkspur Conservation at Taylor Hollow. We are proud to partner with this amazing organization to bring this important end-of-life option to Tennessee.