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Green Burial

A green burial may consist of a traditional funeral service or a small private service to honor the deceased.  The remains are not embalmed, but the body is washed and clothed by the funeral director or family.  The body may be prepared to be viewed by close family members after a short period of time from the time of death. It is not recommended to have a visitation in a public place such as the funeral home or church due to the lack of chemical preservation. The body is placed in a plain pinewood casket that does not have metal or plastic hardware and is not constructed or finished using toxic glues, varnishes, or lacquers.

Where the body is ultimately buried will also have an impact on the environment.  If the body is to be buried in a cemetery, the cemetery requires a casket to be a placed in a vault or a cement liner. This prevents the ground from collapsing above the graves over time and helps prevent unintentional disinterment of remains due to floods, erosion or human error.  The cement contains iron and other minerals that may enter the soil as they degrade and break down.  At the present time, there are only four certified “green” cemeteries in the United States that do not require vaults or grave liners and that do not use any pesticides, fertilizers or power equipment to maintain the grounds.  A green burial is currently limited to choosing no embalming and using a biodegradable wood casket.  

Cremation

The use of cremation is also a green alternative to earth burial.  The body is not embalmed, but washed and clothed by the funeral director or the family.  The deceased may also be prepared to be viewed by close family members for a short period of time from the time of death.  The remains are placed in a simple pine casket or an alternative container made of cardboard and natural wood.  Due to an increasingly energy efficient cremation process, less energy is consumed during the cremation process and thus has less of an environmental impact than earth burial using a cement vault.  The one element of added pollution during the cremation process is the release of mercury where metal dental work (fillings) are heated. 

The cremains (ashes) of the deceased may be buried, scattered or retained.  The funeral director will make arrangements to return the cremains to the next of kin if the cremains are to be saved, scattered or displayed in an urn.  If the cremains are to be buried or interred in a cemetery, most cemeteries require the use of a cement of plastic liner/vault.  The funeral director will assist you in organizing the committal service if the cremains are to be interred in a public cemetery. Biodegradable urns are also considered a green option for land or water scattering.


The idea of a green funeral may be worth considering as we find out more information on the benefits of green funerals on our environment.  There are many considerations that must be made by families considering this “new” option in funeral care.  The green funeral or cremation does not prevent services, whether religious or spiritual, from taking place before or after interment. The difference between a green service and a traditional service is based on the comfort level of the family and friends whom wish to pay their respects to the deceased.  The element of having a timely burial or cremation due to the lack of preservation is one issue that needs to be discussed to prepare for as well as the natural elements to this type of service. Olson & Parent Funeral Home will honor the wishes of the families we serve and will follow all applicable local and state laws and regulations.

We will continue to add information and solutions to this website in determining the benefits and drawbacks to green funeral options.  If you have a question or comments, please visit the Ask the Director page of this website.



The idea of a “green” funeral is not a new concept, but a return to the burial practices of our past that had less of a known impact on the environment.  Simply put, a green funeral is concise decision to select procedures, services and products that limit pollution and the use of chemicals.  The human remains are not preserved or cleaned with chemicals such as formaldehyde, ethanol, or bleach.  Caskets or alternative containers are chosen that are not constructed with toxic glues, varnishes, or modern hardware. The remains are buried or cremated in an environment that allows for considerably less negative impact on the environment.
'Green' Funerals
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OlsonParent.Com
Olson & Parent Funeral Home, Inc.  417 Plainfield Street.  Providence, Rhode Island.  02909
Thomas C. Olson, FD/RELouise Parent Olson, Manager
401-944-6460

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