Green Cemetaries and Green Burial the Seattle Area
Washington state now has two cemeteries certified "green" by the Green Burial Council, a group formed to reform the deathcare industry regarding ecological issues. White Eagle Memorial Preserve near Goldendale, northeast of and across the Columbia River from The Dalles, Ore., opened as a green, conservation burial ground in July 2008. The Meadow in Ferndale, near Bellingham in Washington's northwest corner, was approved as a Natural Burial Ground in November 2008. The Meadow's developers boast sustainable burial methods including Earth-friendly excavation.
Green cemeteries do not allow embalming fluids, nonbiodegradable caskets, or permanent grave liners or vaults. Green cemeteries promote natural decomposition of a body. Conventional cemeteries frequently require grave liners or vaults to maintain ground stability.
Green cemeteries seek to preserve natural, unmussed landscape. Many such cemeteries let visitors use GPS tracking devices to locate remains of loved ones.
The Green Burial Council certifies four levels of burial grounds:
- Conservation burial ground is a green cemetery that partners with an established conservation group, holds a conservation easement on the property, and operates on principles of restoration ecology.
- Natural burial ground is a green cemetery that must engage in restoration planning and land stewardship. It needn't hold a conservation easement but it must use deed restrictions or covenants that keep the land as a green cemetery.
- Low-Impact burial ground is a green cemetery that has adopted burial and operational practices that are non-toxic and energy-conserving. These facilities may lie within a dedicated section of a conventional cemetery, or make up an entirely separate cemetery.
- Hybrid burial ground combines conventional practices with green aspirations. In some instances, this means vaultless burials. In other cases, land-use principles come into play.
For more information visit the Green Burial Council's website at www.greenburialcouncil.org