It's 'World Wildlife Day', and the theme this year is something we are very passionate about, 'Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet’.
We understand how important it is we find sustainable solutions because the human population has grown exponentially, more than our planet can sustain if we continue in the manner we are accustomed to. There are sustainable options that we can choose which are respectful, personal, environmentally friendly and wildlife-friendly. Often these are not traditional, but this is not a bad thing. It’s good to find new ways that are better for us and our planet, but we have to learn to embrace new ideas, one of which are environmentally friendly burial practices such as natural burial.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world".
The traditional methods of graveyard burial and cremation are not eco-friendly. They were created in a different era where sustainability and the impact on our planet, native habitats and wildlife were not considered. With a growing population there is a growing need for funerals, because where there are more births there are more deaths. But there is no reason we cannot adapt our traditions so they are included in sustainable ways. Unless we change the way we do things we cannot expect the world around us to change, and things to get better.
If we find sustainable solutions this benefits us because we know we have done the best we can. It also helps the generations to come who have to deal with the problems that have been created by us and by our ancestors. If anyone understands this we should as we are seeing first hand the problems caused by overuse of fossil fuels.
This is in no way placing blame as during the industrial revolution it was not widely understood how the use of fossil fuels would impact on our environment, at the time it was a useful resource that made life better, and one we continue to use. Or how plastic would have such an impact on the world and the seas around us. We did not fully comprehend how changes in the human population would push our planet to breaking point, or that deforestation would have such a vital impact on the climate and the animals that call it home.
We can see the impact now and understand the damage that has been caused, but it's only by taking responsibility for the problem that we can fix it and why wouldn’t we want to fix our beautiful planet so that our children and their children’s children have a better place to live. Through our knowledge we are finding better choices like the use of renewable energy, benefitting both those who use it and the planet but this needs to apply to all parts of our lives including what happens when we die. We need to find ways to sustain the planet and the people that live on it because they both matter.
Our love of the natural world, of the countryside, wildlife and mother nature is one of the reasons that Leedam, it’s landowners and custodians offer natural burial because it is a sustainable option. It helps people because it helps to support those who are grieving by offering personal funerals and meaningful burials. At the same time it helps the planet because it does this in an environmentally friendly way, safeguarding our native habitats and wildlife.
Natural burial grounds will never become desolate graveyards, unloved and uncared for when there is no longer space. They will remain a much-loved part of our countryside, cherished by the wildlife that still has a home when we are long gone because their trees have not been cut down to make way for a sea of granite headstones. Headstones that have been imported by fossil fuels from far away places which have a detrimental impact on their local habitats and communities and fall into disrepair when there is no one to care for them.
Natural burial grounds are also helping to establish the forests that have been cut down restoring lost habitats and creating homes wildlife. This is helping to re-establish wildlife populations that have declined due to loss of natural habitat. It is a carbon-friendly practice because alongside this natural burial locks carbon into the ground, allowing a natural process to take place, rather than releasing toxins from traditional embalming methods into the earth or carbon from cremation into the atmosphere.
It allows us to give something back to the planet that has sustained us, giving us the opportunity to sustain it, while also focusing on our right to have a respectful send-off for those that have died.
Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure"- Norman Vincent Peale
There are ways to offset our carbon footprint if we choose less sustainable options. Those who wish to have a cremation can choose to plant memorial trees so they can offset the carbon released into the atmosphere and as the Tanzanian Proverb says, ‘little by little, a little becomes a lot’. If we all make positive choices these will make a positive impact, but this saying can also reflect the negative.
It’s just about finding a balance. Making sure that what we choose will not contribute to the problem we now know exists. Natural burial is one of the ways that we can make a sustainable choice when someone we love dies or when we die. It can also offer a much gentler approach to those families who want a personal, unhurried funeral in a beautiful, peaceful and relaxed environment. Natural burial grounds are places that focus on life, not death.
In the end, who were we? Did we leave the world a better place? - Leedam
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
We'd love to hear what you have to say. Use the 'add comment' button at the bottom of each post or contact us here.
You can also find us on facebook and twitter, where we engage in debates, post updates about the burial grounds and more.