Valley News – Plainfield Board of Directors considers green burials

PLAINFIELD – Plainfield Cemeteries board members are considering how to regulate green burials and are likely to bring it to the town meeting in March as a mandate article, supporters say which are also called “natural burials”.

Trustees unanimously support the Green Burial and voted at their November 19 meeting to move it to the next administrative step.

“We are very excited,” said Margaret Drye, who sits on the Plainfield Board of Directors. “There has been interest. It’s something that is within our ability to deliver, and we would like to take advantage of it if we can.

In the green burials, the bodies are prepared without chemical preservatives or embalming fluids. With conventional burials, toxins, including formaldehyde, can seep into the soil and groundwater. Green burials also use a biodegradable casket, casket or shroud, avoiding vaults which slow down decomposition and varnishes which can also be polluting. In Islamic and Jewish traditions, coffins and vaults break with tradition and many choose a natural burial. The Jewish cemetery in the Upper Valley in Lebanon does not need vaults.

In Drye’s family there is a “funeral director” branch, so she is very familiar with funerals. “I attended a very ornate and very simple funeral,” she said. “It’s good to give people a choice. There are people who aspire to simpler things.

Over the next few months, the Cemetery Council will need to discuss the details of the green burials, including issues such as grave depth and upkeep.

Lebanon’s city council is considering a proposed ordinance that would allow green burials in two municipal cemeteries, with a public commentary scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday. problem that heavy grave digging equipment could not pass over a natural grave because it would not have a vault.

Plainfield entrusts Gage Lawncare and Landscaping with the maintenance of its cemeteries. Randy Gage, the owner of the Plainfield-based business, told the Plainfield Cemetery Board last week that he was not concerned about how natural burials might complicate upkeep.

He could not be reached for an interview, but his son, Adam Gage, said it wouldn’t be difficult to fill in any holes that may form when the bodies and their biodegradable containers break down. With only three or four burials a year in all of Plainfield’s cemeteries, he said he didn’t anticipate that upkeep or grave digging would become particularly strenuous.

“One of the biggest issues the Cemetery Council has to solve,” said Steve Halleran, administrator for the city of Plainfield, “are you talking about green burials in a designated cemetery or allowing green burials in each? city ​​cemetery? I do not claim to know the answer.

Designating a confined area for green burials would allow the graves to be managed as a unit, but people often want to be buried near their families.

Diane Rogers, a resident of Plainfield, wants to be buried near the graves of her parents and baby. She is also excited about the green funeral. Earlier this year, she attended a public meeting the council held with Lee Webster, an advocate for green burials. Rogers had thought that cremation made sense to her, but she had never considered the environmental impact of the energy expended to burn a body or the smoke given off.

The ritual of a green funeral attracts her too, she says. Families are often more involved than conventional families: they can lower the body themselves, fill the grave or wrap the body in a woolen shroud, she said.

“The old adage ‘ashes to ashes’ – I look at it, well, I’ll become something else. I will be part of the ground. Things are going to grow above me, ”she said. “We just made ourselves so sacred compared to everything else on this planet… Life is sacred, but so is the whole sacredness of the cycle that you come back to. ”

Yet if it was a question of choosing between a green funeral and resting near loved ones, she would choose the latter.

When the Cemetery Council distributed a survey through the municipal newsletter, all 15 respondents said they were interested in green burial, for reasons ranging from cost reasons to wanting to be a part of nature. Several have also expressed interest in incorporating meditation, walking trails, or even bird watching in areas with green burials, which the cemetery council may take into account when considering landscaping. landscaped, said Drye.

While some people choose green burials for the environmental benefits, others just want a funeral without the expense and complications of a conventional burial.

“I don’t like the idea of ​​coffins and everything that comes with most burials,” said Anne Tracy, 82. She also doesn’t like fire, so she considers natural burial to be a good choice for her. She would also like to be buried near her family’s land.

Over the winter, the board will continue “to do our homework,” said Drye.

“We really wanted to involve the community in the discussion,” she said, and Town Meeting will be an opportunity to do so. The green burial will likely be for a yes / no vote, but the cemetery council would be open to policy changes if someone raises something “we’ve forgotten or a legitimate issue,” she said.

“Dying and burying is something everyone knows they have to plan and don’t do,” she said. “It’s a healthy discussion to have. And the green funeral opens up an option that fits the lifestyle of many people.

Claire Potter is a member of the Report for America Corps. She can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3242.

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