With increasing alarm about climate change, many of us are paying attention to lifestyle choices we make that contribute to this growing disaster. How we live makes a difference.

So too with our death care practices. Have you considered how you would like your body to be cared for after you die?

Conventional burial practices can include the use of embalming fluids that poison the earth. Bodies are placed in caskets made with exotic woods and non-biodegradable materials, which are then buried in concrete or fiberglass liners, so that lawnmowers can more easily maintain grounds around the burial site.  Cremation, the current choice of 85% of Canadians, requires a chamber that heats up to 1,093°C (2,000°F) using 106 litres (28 gallons) of fossil fuel, and releases about 560 lbs. of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Natural burial offers another option, as an environmentally sensitive practice, in which our body is returned to the earth to decompose naturally, thus contributing to new life.

Five essential principles of green burial:

  • No Embalming
  • Direct Earth Burial
  • Ecological Restoration & Conservation
  • Invites Communal Memorialization
  • Optimize Land Use

Conservation burial takes these values another step further by asserting that reciprocity is about “the creation and support of multidimensional social and ecological spaces that sustain us as they sustain the planet and all who dwell on it.” (Conservation Burial Alliance). Conservation or natural burial cemeteries are often located in settings such as forests or fields where flora and fauna exist in their natural state, and where people are encouraged to gather in ways that express their personal grief as well as shared concern for the earth in which their own or a loved ones body is laid to rest.

This intertwining of environmental, social, and spiritual values speaks to us here at the Centre for Earth and Spirit. Thus, we are initiating a focus in this area to encourage each of us to consider how we want our body to be cared for when we can no longer speak for ourselves. Soon, you’ll find a new page on our website devoted to Conservation Burials, and we encourage you to take a look as you consider options for you and your loved ones.

No cure that fails to engage our spirit can make us well.” Viktor Frankl

31 May 2022

We sponsored an online Earth & Spirit Café on May 26 to learn about conservation burials. This introductory session included a PowerPoint presentation with curated information to serve as a “jumping off point” for interested individuals who want to learn more.

In addition to those of you who have a personal interest in natural or conservation burials, we are gathering together people who would like to build on this preliminary foray to see what we can do as a community on the southern end of Vancouver Island to promote ecologically sound disposition practices.

If you would like to receive a free copy of the presentation, or to discuss this topic and have your questions answered, please email info@centreforearthandspirit.ca. We’d love to hear from you, whether to simply pass along the presentation or to further the conversation and actions begun here at Centre for Earth & Spirit.