Archive for Green Funerals/Burials

New mini ocean reef urns

new ocean reef urn

Genesis Biopod - mini ocean reef urn

I stumbled across a mention of a new urn called Genesis Biopod.  This urn is meant to be filled with ashes and lowered to the ocean floor. The ashes dissolve leaving the urn to form  “a mini marine habitat for ocean critters” as they say on their website. The urn can be shipped anywhere and individuals can fill the urn, take it out on a boat and lower it themselves. The urn only weighs 10 pounds and is 22 inches wide and was inspired by the shape of a tortoise shell.

This the latest in the ocean reef burial idea.  I first heard of cement artificial ocean reefs created on land with pockets for ashes. Some companies mixed the ashes into the wet cement.    The structures weighed hundreds of pounds and required a crane to get them into the ocean waters.  These large artificial reef structures were deposited in close proximity to each other creating an underwater burial site. Florida companies like Eternal Reef and Great Burial Reef were the first to build and these reefs.  Other groups like My Living Reef, began offering artificial reef urns off the California coast.

The Neptune Society’s memorial reef took the artificial reef urn idea and added statutes of lions and staircases going nowhere to suggest a lost underwater city, Atlantis or something.

Great Burial Reef now offers a individual ocean reef urn that is much more attractive than their earlier cement block version.

Great Burial Reef's new Living Urn

Probably it’s better for the ocean to have the big concrete monolith artificial reefs, but these stylish urns are warm, personal and beautiful. Visit the Product Gallery’s Ocean Reef Memorials page to view various types of ocean reef memorials. – AC


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Sunday Morning piece on caskets

Sunday Morning features modern caskets

My husband watches “Sunday Morning” every…. well, you know, every Sunday morning.  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago they did a feature on the changing consumer desires for caskets.

They address the personalization craze with caskets covered in pictures and  the African type carved into particular shapes.  They also address the green, simple casket movement.  They interview Ruth Faas and Sue Cross  from Mourning Dove Studio in Arlington, MA.

The piece is a few minutes long and interesting. Check it out  –

Funeral planning has changed and you can see it in people’s changing attitude toward caskets. One size does not fit all. People want personal and some want simple and green. – AC

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Cremation by water

cremation by water

Water cremation has been around for years and is now gaining attention as people seek greener alternatives to cremation. On we’ve call this form of  disposition Resomation others call it Water Resolution or Bio-Cremation.

California is looking at amending the law to allow this form of cremation. Sounds like funeral directors like the idea. It supposed to be significantly less expensive than traditional fire cremation. Another advantage to funeral directors is that they do not need to go through the difficult and expensive procedure for obtaining air emission permits from local air pollution agencies that are necessary with fire cremation.

Right now Florida is the only state allowing this form of cremation. The first commercial bio-cremation facility is expected to become operational in St. Petersburg in the next few months.

I predict that in this new form of cremation will be the next big thing in the funeral industry.

It makes sense – – it’s less expensive, creates less pollution and is more, gentle, than fire cremation.  People will love it. – AC

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“Shell” paper urn for burials at sea

urn burial at sea

"Shell" an urn made from pressed paper that dissolves in water over time

I stumbled upon this gorgeous  urn for burial at sea.

It’s made by Lots and Swedish design company. Messages can be written on the urn and there is a small pocket on the top to place sentimental objects.

I don’t know of any companies in the USA that carry the Shell urn, but I’ll look around.  Shell would make a fantastic addition to the Product Gallery’s urn collection.  People shopping for a biodegradable urn will love this elegant design. Again we’re all about presenting people with funeral planning choices.

I like it, but some may feel it looks like something out of a science fiction movie.  – AC

funeral planning urns

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Cremation by funeral pyre, now available in the USA

Cremation by Funeral Pyre in Crestone, Colorado

Cremation by Funeral Pyre in Crestone, Colorado

Cremation by funeral pyre or “open-air cremation” is now available for a few people in the United States. We’ve just added an article on it in our Disposition Resource Center.

A funeral pyre is one of the world’s oldest cremation traditions. A body is placed upon a structure packed with flamable materials and ignighted.  The pyre is designed to burns at a very hot temperature in order to reduce a human body to a few pounds of ashes.  Pyres are used for the cremation in Hinduism & Sikhism. Vikings disposed of their dead with funeral pyres.

A group in Crestone, Colorado, the Crestone End of Life Project,  has done the research, obtained the necessary legal permissions and created a permanent cement pyre structure to perform around 12 “open-air cremations” a year.  At this time you must be a member of their community in order to proceed with an open-air cremation.  For more information contact the founder of the Crestone End of Life Project, Stephanie Gaines at (719) 588-7415.

A video tape of a cremation by outdoor funeral pyre shows a dignified procession of people placing a shroud wrapped body on top of a pyre. One by one, individuals placed juniper branches on top of the body. They approached the body similar to the way people do at a viewing. With somber deliberation each stepped forward to say good bye to their loved one by placing the juniper branch on top of the pyre. Some placed flowers on the heaping pile of juniper. At the conclusion of this procession, a huge pile of greenery and flowers rested on top of the cement pyre.

When lit, the pyre burst into flames. The group sang Christian songs and prayed; sometimes a cantor sang. As the sun set, the group remained to witnessed the pyre burn for hours. Some members occasionally placed additional wood on the fire. It was  a beautiful heart felt ceremony.

There is some controversy on how green this type of cremation is. There was a lot of smoke when the pyre was first ignighted. The narrator explained that this was caused by the fresh juniper branches.

Could funeral pyres be the next “hot” new thing in the funeral industry? Could they compete with green burial?  Probably not, I wonder how many people choose to witness a cremation at a regular crematory? I understand that there is more interest in witnessing this procedure and some crematorys have developed spaces for the family to observe the cremation. But I’d be surprized if there is much demand for this.

The more funeral options the better. I’m glad to hear that cremation by funeral pyre is happening in the USA and hope it becomes available in more locations  throughout the USA. It’s certainly not for everyone but for some it’s the perfect send off.  People should be allowed to honor their loved ones however they like.

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Urns from Salvaged Wood

We just added a new company into the Product Gallery Portland Natural Caskets. They sell wood caskets and urns made by hand. Portland Natural Caskets only delivers caskets to Washington and Oregon states, so their caskets are not in the Product Gallery, but their urns are. They have a listing for their caskets in their local funeral guide,

I was talking with Scott, the owner of Portland Natural Caskets, and he told me the artist who makes some of their urns stores logs he’s salvaged in his pond. The water prevents the logs from deteriorating.  When the artist is ready to begin a new urn project he literally jumps into the pond to pull up a log for the project. The urn are beautiful as you can see in the picture below. Each is made from a  single piece of wood.  David told me that it’s common to salvage wood from rivers and lakes near old lumber camps and mills. People can find excellent rare wood pieces of wood in perfect condition under the water.

Urn made from salvaged wood stored in a pond

Urn made from salvaged wood stored in a pond

We now have nearly 3,000 funeral related products and services in the Product Gallery.

I’m can’t wait until the Product Gallery is completely  filled out with every conceivable product and service available. I’m imagining around 40 major categories with hundreds of subcategories.

The Product Gallery will be the easiest way   to consider all options  and will be a great help to people trying to figure out what to do when funeral planning.  – Anna

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Green burial and home funeral conference coming up

Natural Transitions is sponsoring a conference on Green Burial and Home Funerals. Two topics of great interest to me. I wish I could attend. The event begins this Saturday, October 3, 2009 in Boulder, Colorado and is called Ethics and Ecology.

Natural Transitions is a home funeral support organization with “guides” — people who are educated about how to prepare and execute a home funeral.  Lately, we’ve taken to calling them “home funeral specialists”.  Some people call them  “Death Midwives” or “Death Doulas” but that gives the idea that they work with the dying to help them pass away or something.  Home funeral specialists are exactly that, people who have gained some special knowledge on how to do a home funeral.  I think they play an important role for those families that want to have an “expert” around. Other families will feel comfortable educating themselves and not using a specialist to help out.  Hey, it’s all about choices. Let people know what their options are and let them decide what’s best for their situation.

Green Burial and Home Funeral Conference: Ethics and Ecology, Sponsored by Natural Transitions in Boulder, Colorado

Green Burial and Home Funeral Conference: Ethics and Ecology, Sponsored by Natural Transitions in Boulder, Colorado

For more information about the conference,  see Natural Transitions’ website at

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