Most people, aside from the seriously suicidal, spend little time contemplating their demise. This is also true for the logistics of one's death, such as the writing of one's legal will and the disposition of one's remains -- burial, cremation, or medical donation. While earthly interment still remains the favorite choice among most cultures, an increasing number of people are choosing the latter two options, for a variety of reasons. These include the desire to reduce funeral expenses, to avoid further land usage by ever-enlarging cemeteries, and, in the case of donation, to help people in need of organs and help medical students in need of cadavers.
The amount of land made off-limits by both modern and ancient grave sites worldwide, is probably unknown. But the total space consumed is most likely quite sizable, given that there are thousands of cities and towns in hundreds of countries all over the globe, with most having multiple cemeteries and mausoleums.
The wisdom of using this land for the burial of human remains — to say nothing of deceased pets — is certainly open to debate, greatly influenced by the disputants' moral and religious beliefs. Environmental concerns are increasingly playing a role in the decision process — especially for people who consciously and, they would argue, conscientiously desire for their physical remains to return to the ecosystem with minimal environmental impact. These individuals realize that their bodies are replete with nutrients that can be returned to the soil, and ultimately to the plants and animals that live in and above that soil.
An article in The Sydney Morning Herald notes that "Environmentalists say conventional funerals and cremations are ecologically damaging because cremations produce greenhouse gases; embalming uses harmful chemicals that can enter soil and waterways; gravestones are made of granite shipped from China; coffins are made from particle board or rainforest timber, held together with poisonous glues, lined with plastic and varnished, which pollutes the land."
In response to this demand, a growing number of eco-friendly cemeteries are offering natural burials, in biodegradable coffins. Britain, the pioneer in this movement, already boasts has more than 225 such burial sites. Australia has similar services in at least four of its territories. Other advanced countries will most likely be following suit in the near future, if they have not already. Awareness of this option is spreading to potential customers as they hear about it in the media, and also spreading throughout the industry, particularly at the new green funeral expos.
Clients of these services are encouraged to use more biodegradable materials for the coffins, such as plantation pine, recycled cardboard, or woven wicker. In addition, it is best if people choose against embalming, to reduce the release into the environment of toxic chemicals.
Naturally, some people have concerns over this new approach. Without a granite headstone, how can surviving family members and friends know that they are standing at the right spot? Some eco-burial services allow headstones made from wood or natural rock. Global Positioning System (GPS) locating is an option made available by some services, including Lismore Memorial Park Cemetery, which is the first eco-burial site in Australia's New South Wales. Families visiting the burial sites of their loved ones, are loaned satellite navigation devices.
With a far less structured organization of the burial sites, is it possible for the deceased to be inadvertently located too close to the remains of someone else? Most if not all facilities ensure that graves are at least a respectful distance from one another.
Though our time alive may be limited, we can now choose to also limit our environmental impact even after death, in addition to becoming a part of a natural setting.
Shapeless and dull may have been the characteristics of the earliest eco-conscious women's clothing, but fortunately that stereotype has long been obsoleted by the extensive range of green women's fashions that are made available by online retailers, such as Faerie's Dance. For entrepreneur Adrienne Catone, her green journey began with an encounter with a family of silverback gorillas, in Zaire. It prompted her to take a leave of absence from her work in aerospace, and to travel to Europe in 2004, seeking inspiration. Upon returning to the United States — specifically, Harbor City, in Los Angeles — she founded Faerie's Dance on 22 July 2005. The firm now offers one of the widest selections of organic and Earth-friendly lingerie and intimate apparel, thereby giving women the opportunity to look and feel beautiful, but in an environmentally responsible manner. True to her global perspective, Adrienne actively supports small businesses worldwide that adhere to fair wages, and she consistently uses recycled and reusable materials throughout her own business. A portion of all sales are donated to charity, which can make her customers feel even better!
For far too many years in America, fashion-centric shoppers would shoulder designer handbags made from plastics and other eco-unfriendly materials. Thankfully, those types of bags are being replaced with far more environmental tote bags, typically manufactured from hemp, organic cotton, and the like. As part of this welcome movement, OrganicBagLady.com offers a variety reusable, lightweight, and yet stylish shopping bags made from regular cotton, organic cotton, or recycled materials — your choice. Even though the bags are of high quality, they are designed to be just as affordable as they are attractive. The firm is located in Boulder, Colorado, and was started in November 2007 by Tamara Czarnecki, a former member of the armed forces, who was inspired by her own journey to "go green". She was seeking to replace disposable bags with something much more lightweight and aesthetically eclectic, but found the existing options quite limited. So she began her own line of shopping bags — all of which are available on her Web site. Later this year, visitors can check out her upcoming "Made in the USA" series. One customer commented that the bag holder has helped her to remember to carry the bags with her wherever she goes, rather than being left behind in the closet, which is the fate of so many tote bags.
"All I ever did was to listen to nature and pass the word along." These are the inspiring words of Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee, a pioneer in nutritional supplements, a chiropractor, a successful business builder, and a gentleman who lived more than 90 years, despite childhood tuberculosis — by actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Liz Amason, an independent distributor for Shaklee Corporation, carries on his tradition by offering a wide range of products for nutrition, weight management, beauty, personal care, water purification, home care, and air purification. Located in Weiser, Idaho, Liz Amason makes available a unique line of eco-friendly cleaning products, "Get Clean", which are made using sustainably-sourced natural ingredients, distributed in recyclable packaging, and are super concentrated to further reduce packaging requirements. They contain no chlorine bleach, volatile organic compounds, phosphates, nitrates, borates, or harmful fumes, and use no animal testing. Liz Amason continues to pass along the word of nature.
It has been said that from small acorns, large oak trees grow. The same is true in the world of online enterprises, such as the story behind Sweet Organics and Naturals. It all started when the founder of the company, Sandra Schwarz, decided to make handmade greeting cards, have some of them printed to highlight her photography, and then try selling some on eBay to see what kind of commercial response she could get. Initially she was searching for wholesalers to provide tree-less paper, and she ended up finding so many terrific products from small companies, that before she knew it, she had created her own store! Located in Fairview, North Carolina, her company officially got started in November 2007, and already features a well-rounded assortment of eco-responsible jewelry, purses, body care products, wrapping paper, home supplies, journals, scrapbooks, and of course greeting cards, which is what started this promising "small acorn" growing into a sturdy enterprise.
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