How natural burial is helping to sustain people and planet.
‘World Wildlife Day’, 2021 focused on 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. It’s more than our planet can sustain if we continue in the manner we are. The good news is there are sustainable options that are respectful, personal, eco-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.
However, we are the ones that have to be open to embracing new ideas. Ideas which are environmentally friendly such as natural burial. We chose to make the change from burial to cremation and to use chemicals and plastic. We can choose to change it back to a more natural way.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Traditional methods of graveyard burial and cremation are not very eco-friendly. They are from a different era where their impact on our planet, native habitats and wildlife wasn’t considered. With a growing population, there is an increasing need for funerals, because where there are more births there are more deaths. But there is no reason we can’t adapt our traditions to be sustainable. But unless we change the way we do things we cannot expect the world around us to change, and things to get better.
Making a change
If we find sustainable solutions this benefits us because we know we’ve done the best we can. It also helps the generations to come who have to deal with the problems that have been created. If anyone understands this we should as we are seeing first-hand the problems caused by the overuse of fossil fuels.
But there is no point focusing on the past and the damage done because it was not always widely understood how the overuse of fossil fuels would contribute to climate change. 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 oceans 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.
However, now we can see the impact and understand the damage that has been caused and we can choose to do something about it. 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? Know that our children and their children’s children have a better place to live and be proud we were a part of this.
Through our knowledge, we are finding better choices like using renewable energy. This benefits us 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 and animals that live on it because they all matter.
Why we chose a natural burial
Our love of the natural world, the countryside, and wildlife is one of the reasons that Leedam, its landowners and custodians offer natural burial. It is sustainable and safeguards our native habitats for generations to come. But it also helps people because it offers personal and meaningful funerals and burials. At the same time, it helps the planet because it does this in an environmentally friendly way.
Natural burial grounds will never become desolate graveyards that fall into disrepair when there is no longer space. They remain a much-loved part of our countryside, cherished by the wildlife that still has a home. This includes when we are long gone because the trees have not been cut or plants uprooted or grassland turned to tarmac to make way for a sea of granite headstones. Headstones imported with fossil fuels from far away places also have a detrimental impact on the local habitats and communities that source them.
Giving something back to the earth
Natural burial grounds give back to nature by offering natural resting places which protect existing habitats, but they also give back in many other ways too. They help to restore lost habitats with their green projects. This includes re-establishing woodland, traditional orchards, wetlands and wildflower meadows. They promote less intensively farmed pasture and support farm diversification and sustainable management.
Natural burial is a carbon-friendly practice because it locks carbon into the ground. It allows a natural process to take place. It doesn’t release 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. But it also focuses on our right to have a respectful send-off for those that have died. It also offers a much gentler approach for families who want a personal, unhurried funeral in a much more relaxed and peaceful environment.
It’s about finding a balance. Making sure that what we choose will not contribute to the problems we are aware of. Natural burial is one of the ways that we can make a sustainable choice when someone we love dies or when we die. Natural burial grounds are places that focus on life, not death.
“Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure”- Norman Vincent Peale
Making a change now
There may be ways to reduce the carbon released if we choose less sustainable options like planting a tree and as the Tanzanian proverb says, ‘little by little, a little becomes a lot’. But it doesn’t change the fact we are releasing more carbon than our planet can handle now. This carbon is adding contributing to the problem and the simple fact is we need to reduce our footprint now and reverse the damage.
We need to understand that the tree we planted needs time to grow into something that can balance out the carbon we have released, and we don’t have that time. It’s about us finding ways we can make a significant difference in the here and now. It can be done very simply with actions like the coffin and flowers we choose. If we lock away carbon when we die, or release it into the atmosphere.
If we all make positive choices these will make a positive impact, but this saying can also reflect the negative.
In the end, who were we? Did we leave the world a better place?