Dying to be green
Wed, Mar 16, 2011 (2:45 p.m.)
Death is a natural part of the life cycle. When it comes to commonplace burial practices, however, the process is anything but eco-friendly—but it could be. This is the message Wendy Kraft and Laura Sussman relay through Kraft-Sussman Funeral Services, the only green funeral service company in Southern Nevada.
What does dying green entail? For starters, offering a no-embalming option to reduce the use of toxic formaldehyde. Many grievers don’t realize that embalming isn’t required, even for bodies that must travel across state lines, says Sussman. Providing natural caskets or casket-free burials is another aspect. If cremation is requested, finding an ecologically conscious facility is key. Despite the eco-happy connotation of simple ashes being scattered over the earth, the process of burning a body typically uses harsh chemicals and requires lots of energy.
These green options seem fresh, the mark of a generation newly attuned to its effect on the planet, but many practices have been going on for thousands of years. Some followers of Judaism, for example, forgo embalming and fancy boxes lined with unnecessary metal or fiberglass and instead wrap the body in a shroud and place it in the ground.
“People are starting to catch up,” says Sussman, who shares a Jewish background with Kraft. “They’re starting to realize what’s important are the memories.”
While this may be true, Nevada still has a long way to go when it comes to greening the afterlife. The state has no green cemeteries. Sussman envisions a cemetery that works with the natural environment—meaning no grass and no water usage. Essentially, it would be like being buried in a hole in the desert, except, ya know, without that the whole grisly crime thing.