I came across this article on the TreeHugger Blog about natural cemeteries. This is a topic that I think about occasionally, usually when I pass by a large cemetery. I think the Green Springs Natural Cemetery is a step in the right direction, but it falls short of what I would like to see in the world.
In general, the burial processes in the United States are non-sustainable, hypocritical, and outright bizarre from a nature perspective. I am strongly opposed to displacing nature by creating a cemetery so that we as people can be preserved forever with toxic chemicals. We then hypocritically claim that by doing so we are returning to nature after death.
My thoughts on the topic are first and foremost, that I do not believe I should consume land on this planet after I die. This planet should be available for life after I die, not for my remains. This is one place where the natural cemetery mentioned above falls short. The second issue is the embalming process. The specific injection of toxic chemicals into the ground. It is good to hear that this is an optional process. My Will instructions currently say that I wish to be cremated. This is considered the best alternative as it does not consume land, but does consume a great deal of energy and pollutes at the same time.
My ideal would be to either be buried in a shallow grave naturally (no box) or just laid out on top of the land for nature to take its course. The biological processes are fairly efficient at cleaning up the waste and truly returning our bodies to nature. I have watched in Yellowstone National Park where a full sized bison is literally returned to the land in a period of 5-7 days, with nearly all traces gone within a month or two. Millions of animals die every day and this is the process that returns their nutrients to the planet, why not use it for us?