Over the past few decades there’s a growing movement away from funerals that involve embalming, expensive caskets, and concrete burial vaults and toward a simpler and more natural send-off. And this so-called “green burial” movement is where forests come in. Turns out a lot of people would like their final resting place to be a forest, or at the edge of one. With a nice view. Of mountains, maybe. Or rolling hills, or a lake.
According to the Green Burial Council, each year we bury 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid (of which 827,000 gallons is poisonous formaldehyde); 64,500 tons of steel; 20 million board feet of hardwood lumber in the form of caskets; and 1.6 million tons of concrete in the form of burial vaults.
By contrast, a green burial ground limits interment to what’s biodegradable, said Lakin: the body, a shroud of natural materials or a cardboard or pine coffin. No embalming, no vaults, no metal-lined caskets. Conservation burial also has these requirements, but takes place in a much larger, natural area (at least ten acres of protected land) thus serving as both a cemetery and a conservation strategy.
— Forests for Maine’s Future