Green Is the New Dead

Green-burial movement gets more ambitious

27 Jul 2006

“I’d prefer to be put in the ground, under a tree,” says Joe Sehee, contemplating his inevitable demise. “But I don’t want to go in the ground with anything, I just want to be buried in a simple pine box or shroud, and that’s it.”

If Sehee has given his preferences a lot of thought lately, it’s not that he’s planning to shuffle off this mortal coil any more imminently than the rest of us — it’s just that, as executive director of the Green Burial Council, it’s his job.

The “anything” Sehee wants to avoid going into the ground with is the embalming fluid, concrete, steel, and hardwoods that typically get buried along with the dead. For the past four years, he has been seeking a way to bring environmental consciousness to the “death-care” industry. Now the Green Burial Council is unveiling the first U.S. certification for eco-burials, a move that Sehee hopes will harness the power of the $25 billion death-care industry — which oversees 1.8 million burials in the U.S. each year — in the service of conservation.

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