Dying green

So this article was saying that nowadays in India, Hindus burn 50 million trees a year in order to send their loved ones off to Yonderville via their time-honored tradition of the funeral pyre.

Excuse me while I snort with Newtonian-based secular derision. I mean, that’s a lotta wood. And, pardon my blasphemy, but I must at least suggest that it could well be a lot of wasted wood.

Not that our death industry gets off the hook because it’s so bloody intellectual. Millions of caskets are sold every year to folks who can’t abide the thought that mom or dad will one day be chewed on by beetles. So we buy these fancy and quite un-cheap canisters, all lined with tuck-and-roll plushness and guaranteed to keep all those chewy little horridities away from Loved One’s precious bod.

Many have seen through this thin veil of weirdness for the wallet-soaking racket it is. As a result, loads of us who don’t connect with any part of the casket scene have now casually slid on over to cremation, a far more affordable and efficient alternative. Compared to funerals, it’s certainly an attractive Plan B.

But hold on. There’s a new movement bubbling up these days, a movement of interest to anybody willing to consider an even simpler and more “old school” method of body disposal: Green Burial.

I hadn’t heard of this (heads up, shameless plug on the way) until I read something written by an old radio partner of mine, Jo Myers. She’s penned an informative and handy book called Good to Go: the ABCs of Death and Dying, a most helpful guide for anyone who must deal with all the planning and details surrounding death or an impending death.

In her book, Jo mentions Joe Sehee and the Green Burial Council. The GBC is putting forth a simple concept: burial in a biodegradable casket, or even just a blanket or shroud. That way, the body goes in the ground as more of an offering than a time capsule. “Here ya go, Earth, I’m done with all this carbon and stuff. Thanks.”

Does this not make a ton of sense? To get your body wrapped in nothing more expensive than a thick blanket and then be ceremoniously slipped into the ground? Seems fine to me. What the heck do I care? I am, after all, dead.

Of course, you just can’t go ahead and start stuffing dead people into sleeping bags and heaving them into a hole. Right now, green burial is allowed in only 10 states. Californians, yes; Nevadans, no. Them undertakers do know how to lobby, you know. And there is a certain protocol that must be followed. Since there’s no embalming, one’s family has to be ready, once they’ve received the body, to get into gear and get that loved one enshrouded and in the ground. Yes, we’re dealing with an impending stink factor here, among other things.

Interested in more? Greenburialcouncil.org. And for Jo’s book: Goodtogothebook.com.