Death is an uncomfortable topic for many, but a new trend could be emerging. As more and more people live a greener, more environmentally friendly lifestyle, that mindset is carrying over into how we view death and final arrangements. While the norm, in the United States at least, is a burial of an embalmed body in a casket, there are green alternatives that are becoming more popular. From dedicated areas of a cemetery, to "tree pods" that turn a body into a living plant, the options beyond the typical burial are growing in popularity. As the saying goes, "Live green, die green."
A new documentary from filmmaker Ellen Tripler, details how some people are choosing a different way to dispose of their remains after death. The first green cemetery, in South Carolina, is catching on. Instead of being embalmed, with chemicals and a casket, some are choosing to be buried in pods that will nurture a tree or in other biodegradable materials. Citing concerns about land use, toxic chemicals, and the expense involved in a typical funeral, some environmental activists as well as others who just don't want the expense of a casket and funeral costs, are turning to green or "natural" burials. These funeral arrangments do not include an upright headstone, a burial vault or a typical plot in a cemetery. In pioneer days, often people would die on their way to the new world of the West, and recent efforts focused on protecting "prairie burial grounds" have led to a new way of looking at death with a view toward preserving land and limiting the use of chemicals. Burial expert Dr. Billy Campbell talks about this movement with PBS and how he became involved.