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Why We All Need To Think About Our Funerals — For The Sake Of The Planet

The process of arranging a green burial is similar to setting up a conventional burial, though it may require a bit more research upfront.

The easiest way to find a green burial provider in your area is to check the interactive maps on the Green Burial Council’s website. These will show you the nearly 400 hybrid, natural, and conservation burial sites that have been certified by their certification program. And just because you don’t see a provider near you, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

A cemetery that doesn’t advertise that it offers green burial may still allow you to do a burial without embalming or a vault, so it’s worth asking about. As green burial techniques gain more attention, Bixby estimates that most people in the U.S. will be able to find a site that will accommodate a natural burial within 100 miles.

Once you find a cemetery or funeral provider, you can work with them to find a biodegradable casket or burial shroud. They may have options that they offer or allow you to provide your own. The Green Burial Council also certifies a number of biodegradable funeral products, from pure wood caskets to cotton shrouds.

Depending on which state you live in, you can also explore other approaches to holistic, sustainable death care like water cremation and human composting. (More details on those below.)

And it’s never too early to think about what you’d like your own end-of-life care to look like, too. Nonprofits like End Well and Death Over Dinner provide helpful resources for starting conversations about death that are meaningful and ultimately life-affirming.

“We’re in a world where life has to involve talking about death and dying,” says McDuff. “The more we talk about it, the easier it is for the people who are living to manage and handle and engage with death.”

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