Nicole Keck Professor Lotz WRT 150 11 September, 2012 Color the ...

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Nov 25, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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Nicole Keck

Professor Lotz

WRT 150

11 September, 2012

Color the Dead Green


Old metal that had been

woven into a large gate

opens

into a field of manicured grass and
grave stones.
Beauty has been sapped from every angle, excluding the lowly trees freckled across
the perimeter.
Rows of
cars file into the area, all le
d to the same destination where a

grave

has
been prepared.
A casket

is set above the hole where it is showered with whi
te flowers before
being
lowered. One shovel at a time, the weeping family watches the dirt slowly burry their
friend, their family, their lover.
As the emotional audience disperses, grass is re
-
planted to
uphold th
e professional out
look of the

facility. Pe
sticides rain upon the resting place of the
former life
where it will

later
find its

way

into a nearby stream.
Beneath
the Earth the body lies
in a casket carved from the most expensive

wood the rainforest can

offer, where its exquisiteness

and craftsmansh
ip

only serve
s

one purpose and that
has already been fulfilled
. Forever the body
will
lay

because forever the box will stay.


Caskets are meant to pro
tect the dead body, embalming is

meant to preserve the dead
bo
dy
and
green grass is meant to cover the dea
d body
.

Is this really what for the best though?
A
green burial works

around nature, not through it.

Back in 1998 Ramsey Creek Preserve, in South Carolina, was one of the first green
cemeteries in the United States

(
Corley
)
.
But b
efore anything else can t
ruly be said, there is
an
obligation to define what a “Green Burial”

is.
A

green burial is a natural
and cheaper
way to put
a body to r
est
.
It’s a

memorial
for loved ones

where nature isn’t harmed
;

it’s helped.
A green
Keck
2


burial

doesn’
t

take a corpse and roll it into a
hole.

It

uses nontoxic
,

renewable and
biodegradable
material
s

for every aspect of the burial
, from embalming to the caskets
.

The material must be
obtained in a fashion that doesn’t harm the environment or it cannot be used
.

Things such as
burial vaults
are typically not allowed, seeing as it may harm the very land that this green
alternative is trying to preserve.
So this begs the question “Should more people opt for a green
burial?”

Let’s compare a traditional cemetery wit
h a green cemetery.
In a traditional cemetery,
there is little nature except for the grass that covers the graves and
the occasional

tree. The

organization

of
Green Burials

state that
grounds use herbicides that poison the

ground and the
nearby streams
. Al
so due to the fact they manipulate the elevation of the ground, traditional
cemeteries have draining problems

(
Green Burials
)
.

Lawnmowers are used often to contribute to
the upkeep where they may cut the grass but they also pollute the air.
Then
according
to ABC’s
Carlos Granda,
due to the significant amount of dead people there are cemeteries have had to
move graves closer together, damaging

and disturbing remains
.
Even through the good and bad,
when it is said and done

they have tradition and religion tha
t’s been building, growing and
changing for centuries.

On the other hand, green burials try to have the least amount of influence as possible.
Green burial grounds not only host a place for eternal rest but a home for the native species of
the area. The gr
ound keepers also do nothing to enhance the growth of the environment so
there
are no pesticides to pollute the ground or water and since they only use specific, organic material
for burials, the carbon footprint is decreased exponentially

(
Green Burials
)
.
So a green burial as
a whole s
till allows a place of memorial for the dead but in a more natural way
.
With the good
comes bad, seeing as t
here
are some
potential downs to green bu
rial
.

One
question

is

if green
Keck
3


burials pollute

water sources
,

since the bar
rier between the body and the soil is pretty much
nonexistent.

According to
Cheryl

Corely, from the
90.9
WBUR

radio station,

Advocates say
water quality will not be jeopardized because, for the most part, harmful bacteria and viruses
become inert wi
thin
hours or days after death”

but the graves must be a set distanc
e from any
water source anyway
.
Another is that green burials must happen rather fast because a body must
be buried or frozen within twenty
-
four hours. The cemetery provides freezing, but it co
uld be
another potential cost
. There is also the concern that people won’t be able to mark graves, let
alone find them being green and all. The solution to that is quite easy though. Graves are still
able to be marked, just not in the traditional matter. I
n a green cemetery, native plants and stones
are used to mark the graves. There is also the new option of finding the grave via GGPS
coordinates (Corely)
. There is also the possibility that one will be refused a green burial should
there be a rare disease
or local law preventing it, but those seem to be uncommon chances
(
Green Burial Pittsburgh
)
.

Embalming is one of the issues that almost every green burial article acknowledged.

The
green cemeteries

stress

it’s ‘not wrong’ but they don’t allow it because it environmentally
unsafe.
"We bury enough embalming fluid to fill eight Olympic
-
size swimming pools, enough
metal to build the Golden Gate Bridge, and so much reinforced concrete in burial vaults that we
c
ould build a two
-
lane high
way from New York to Detroit
" states

Joe
Sehee
, executive director
of the Green Burial Council
(Corely).
The Green Burial Council’s r
esearch has
also
shown that
those who have contact with embalming fluid have a higher chance of
cancer due to the
chemicals within the liquid
. If embalming must be used, the Green Burial Council suggests that
newer biodegradable embalming fluids are used (
Green Burial Council
). There are some who
say that embalming prevents distribution of diseases.

This does not hold
true for all, t
he Green
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4


Burial Council
disagrees and
debates that "there is no evidence suggesting that embalming
prov
ides any public health benefits
"
(Corely).


What about v
aults? Are they
required
?
According to Green Burial Pittsburg,
no they are
not required by state nor federal law, but individual cemeteries may require it. To keep grave
diggers at bay, vaults use
d

to be required by cemeteries in the late 19
th

century.

N
ow it’s more of
a way to prevent the ground from shifting and to
keep grave markers in place. There are
a few
cemeteries that request an additional charge for grave maintenance

on vaultless burials, but most
do not.


While the concrete and metal in

vaults are considered ‘natural’

to some


it’s not what it
seems because


the manufacturing and transporting of vaults utilizes a tremendous amount of
energy and contribute to 1.6 tons of rei
nforced concrete being produced” (
Green Burial
Pittsburg
)

for concrete vaults
.
The Green Burial Council does not require vaults in their certified
Hybrid Burial Grounds, but they are not allowed at all in the Natural and Conservational
cemeteries (
Green Burial Pittsburg
).

Of all the green ways to go
,

is cremation one of them? It’s a
good, complicated question.
Cremation takes fewer resources to accomplish than many of the alternatives but it burns fossil
fuels (
Green Burial Council
). It also

emits pollutants such as: dioxin, hydrochloric acid, sulphur
dioxide, carbon dioxide and mercu
ry which specifically comes from the cremation of people’s
fillings

(
Green Burials
)
.
Newer cremation programs though have new technology to reduce said
pollutants to make this way of disposition greener. The Green Burial Council has also started to
endorsi
ng facilities that help construct and/or protect
ecosystems

(
Green Burial Pittsburgh
)
.
Biodegradable urns are beginning to be available where they are designed to break after a set
time. Cremation is not only a greener option for the environment but for yo
ur wallet as well
Keck
5


seeing as there’s no need for a casket, embalming or burial vault cost (
Green Burials
). So if a
green burial doesn’t
fit into your plans well
,

maybe a cremation will.

In the article
Burials and Cemeteries Go Green
, Cheryl Corely explains
why opting for
green burials are better.
“Each year, cemeteries bury millions of feet of wood, thousands of tons
of steel, copper and concrete, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of embalming fluids
---

which contains formaldehy
de, a known carcinogen”
. C
orley states that green burial is nothing
new to us, we are merely returning to the ways of the past and that it goes by the “ashes to ashes,
dust to dust” philosophy. Comparison in prices were also made, an average funeral in the United

States is easily o
ver $10,000
. A green burial is about $2,000 with an additional cost of a casket; a
pine casket averages at $420 and a cardboard casket can be as little as $50 (
Corley
). Aside from
prices and money though, green burials benefit the ecosystem as well as cons
erve it for future
generations.

P
eople should opt for a green burial. It’s cheaper, and it saves the earth by replenishing it
with nutrients and giving the ecosystem a
sanctuary

away from human development
. Green
cemeteries

are not only obligated to care for the resting place of loved ones, they are also there to
guard the environment so it will stay there forever. There isn’t just one way of having a green
burial either, there are many ways to fit the many personalities of
the world.



Keck
6


Work Cited

Corley, Cheryl. "Burials and Cemeteries Go Green."
90.9
WBUR
. NPR
, 16 Dec. 2007. Web. 18

Sept.
2012.

Granda, Carlos. "Cemetery Sued for Overcrowded Conditions."

ABC News
. KABC
-
TV/DT, 14

Sept. 2009. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.


Green
Burials
.”

GreenBurials.org
.

GreenBurials.org,
2005. Web. 18 Sept. 2012.


Green Burial Council
.

Green Burial Council
.

Green Burial Council,
2002. Web. 18 Sept. 2012.


Green Burial Pittsburgh
.

Green Burial Pittsburgh
.

Green Burial Pittsburg,
2005.

Web. 18 Sept.

2012.