Why do we kill the earth with us, and how can we stop that?
You would be forgiven to believe once you are buried in the Earth, your body decomposes quickly and gives back to nature peacefully. However, the reality of that process is much slower and more harmful to Earth.
When a person is buried in a country like the U.S., their body is first covered in several chemicals, placed in a wooden casket, and put underground. Given there were roughly 3.4 million deaths in the U.S. in 2021 alone and about 36.6.% of these people were buried, a huge amount of chemicals was also buried into the soil, and a vast number of trees were cut down to make those caskets.
To put just the wood part of that into perspective, approximately four million acres of forests are torn down just to make caskets in the U.S. One football field spans one acre, so you can imagine the vastness.
Not only are we harming our soil with dangerous chemicals and tearing down trees to make wooden caskets, but that combination also leads to bodies requiring a few decades to fully decompose.
Talk about not being at one with nature!
However, all hope is not lost. There are other, greener options available.
Take the Vajrayana Buddhists. They neither cremate nor bury their dead. Instead, they place them at a safe distance in the open air for vultures to come and eat them. They believe vultures carry their dead up to the holy spirits. Moreover, it’s as nature intended as the deceased find their place within the food chain, giving back to the circle of life.
Another nature-friendly way of keeping burials clean and sustainable is by becoming one with nature. There is a new concept called “green burials” that buries bodies in biodegradable coffins or wrapped in a shroud without a concrete burial vault. This way, the body decomposes rapidly and completely, so it returns to nature as intended.
The coffins used in these green burials are generally made from natural wood, woven paper, or mushrooms. The latter is called “the living cocoon,” which helps a body decompose as quickly as two to three years.
Yet an even speedier and more nature-friendly way to be buried is to be turned into a plant.
Biodegradable urns that come in the shape of a tube of an egg can be buried beneath a tree seed or sapling. The decomposing container and person’s cremated remains blend with the soil to nourish the plant, keeping the entire process green and clean. Plus, the people who lost their loved ones have a beautiful, natural place to visit.
What a way to go!