Sunday, June 21, 2015

Environmentally Sustainable Burials

by Anton Antonio
June 9, 2015

“Humus is a dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays.  When plants drop leaves, twigs, and other materials to the ground, it piles up.  This material is called leaf litter.  When animals die, their remains add to the litter.  Over time, the litter decomposes.  This means it decays, or breaks down into its most basic chemical elements.  Many of these chemicals are important nutrients for the soil and organisms that depend on soil for life, such as plants.  The thick brown and/or black substance that remains after most of the organic litter has decomposed is called humus.  Earthworms often help mix humus with other minerals in the soil.  Humus contains many useful nutrients for healthy soil.” (Antonio, 2014)  This introductory narrative on humus or plant and animal matter decays could also apply to humans.  This is also called “green burial”.

For those who believe in environmentally sustainable burials aimed at helping make soil fertile and healthy, there now is an alternative.  The process is simple.  Human cadavers or corpse are wrapped in simple shrouds instead of non-biodegradable metal caskets and the use of non-toxic, formaldehyde-free embalming fluids.  This veers away from the traditional practice of embalming with toxic chemicals, or encasement in fancy steel caskets, sealed off from decomposing bacteria.

Advocates of green burial or environmentally sustainable burials argue that this will also help decrease land use conversion to cemeteries and memorial parks.  As an alternative, forest areas will be developed where green burials could be made.  Environmentally sustainable burials could enhance growth of the forest.  This objective, although a “hard sell”, highlights the importance of forest resources to improving biodiversity and ecology.  For additional information, please click on this link:

Green or environmentally sustainable burials may be contrary to a lot of worldviews, customs and traditions.  But for diehard nature lovers and ecology advocates, this is the best way to go… by way of green burials and environmentally sustainable burials.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C. (2014). “Humus”. Retrieved on June 9, 2015 from

OZY.COM (2015). “Fast Forward: Dead + Gone + Green”.  Retrieved on June 9, 2015 from

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