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"Green Cemetery" - A New Natural Burial Trend

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

When you die, would you mind being buried in a wooden box or wrapped in just your favorite blanket?

It’s called natural burial, a “green” way to save the environment and money. Wichita is about to become one of the very few cities in the country to offer it.

The open Kansas prairie - tall natural grasses and the quiet of nature - this is where the Catholic Diocese of Wichita will open the area’s first natural burial area. There are no caskets, no vaults, and no headstones"

"We are born into this world, naturally, and it's important to believe we leave naturally," says green cemetery supporter Linda Shinogle.

Linda has been thinking about her burial since she was young.

Linda says, "You are not using a casket, a pine box, or even a favorite blanket, so the plans are different than the traditional burial. I have done it; I have signed the check. It's not something I'm considering, it's done."

She was one of the first in line to buy a plot at Ascension Cemetery when it decided to make part of it “green.”

The area just north of the current cemetery will be the site of natural burials. Director of the Catholic cemeteries Jim Sheldon is working on the plan.

“The idea is that we'll have natural gamma grasses, little blue stem, tall to have area like it used to be like the Kansas prairie,” says Sheldon.

He says a natural burial area will not only save money for the families who are burying loved ones, but it will save the environment, according to the Casket and Funeral Association of America.

Every year, 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid – dangerous chemicals – along with tons of steel, copper, and bronze are buried in the ground, causing potential environmental dangers.

“It will save putting the embalming fluids into the ground, the concrete. Those resources can be used elsewhere,” says Sheldon.

State law currently allows natural burials with no embalming and no caskets, and the Department of Health and Environment says a green cemetery shouldn’t cause much contamination.

Linda Shinogle has no regrets or doubts about her decision. Like our ancestors, she says, she will be buried naturally.

The natural burial site should be ready for funerals sometime next year, and you can buy a plot by the end of 2012.


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