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Please join me in welcoming Elizabeth Fournier, author of The Green Burial Guidebook



Read the book review here!

Elizabeth will be hanging out in the forums until July 12th, answering questions and sharing her experiences with you all.

At the end of the week, we'll make a drawing for 4 lucky winners to win a copy of her book! From now until Friday, all new posts in the Zero Waste forum are eligible to win.

To win, you must use a name that follows our naming policy and you must have your email set up to receive the Daily-ish email.

The winners will be notified by Personal Moosage and must respond within 24 hours. Only the winners who respond within that timeframe will receive their book. Watch for a PM, and a notice in this thread announcing the winners!


Please remember that we favour perennial discussion.  The threads you start will last beyond the event.  You don't need to use Elizabeth's name to get her attention. We like these threads to be accessible to everyone, and some people may not post their experiences if the thread is directed to the author alone.


Posts in this thread won't count as an entry to win the book, but please say "Hi!" to Elizabeth and make her feel welcome!
COMMENTS:
 
gardener
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You are most welcome, Elizabeth!
 
pioneer
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Hi Ms Fournier,

Really pleased something like this has come out, it's been needed for a long time. It must have been a difficult subject to address with all the taboo and regulation. I personally would prefer the Buddhist style of 'sky burial'. I don't happen to be a Buddhist but I like many of their practices and concepts. My preferred choice would be extremely green but I cannot imagine it happening in Blighty. Just for the sake of curiosity, did you go there (sky burial that is !) in your recent work ?

Good Luck with your promotion.

Best Regards Eric
 
master steward
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Welcome!  I am looking forward to reading some great threads on this topic.
 
master pollinator
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Welcome, Elizabeth.  This topic interests me greatly; I'm creating a Green Family Cemetery on my family's land.

 
Posts: 26
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Hello, all. Thank you so kindly for your warm welcome. I am thrilled to provide any knowledge about anything I can regarding this subject, as well as anything you would like to ask a mortician as not everyone knows one and has the ability to gets their questions answered.

I know, have not witnessed a sky burial in person. A definitely most interesting and environmental concept!!
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Welcome to the Forum.

I am a weaver and have been thinking about weaving linen burial cloths.
Do you feel that this would be thought of as part of a green burial ?
Any comments would be welcome.

Again Welcome Here,
Charles
 
Posts: 48
Location: Columbia Falls, MT
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Welcome Ms. Fournier to the best forums on the net!!!
 
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I heard a discussion on NPR on this subject, it may have been you.
There was a mention of composting in wood chips as being very effective
Is this something you know about and is it discussed in your book
what size of a pile of wood chips aged? or fresh  would a microrrhizae inocculant be needed
how long does it take

thanks Curt
 
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Location: Campton, United States
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Welcome!
Forty years ago I started telling my wife, in jest, “If I die first, get a wood chipper and blow me out into the compost pile.”
Behind every funny there seems to be a core of truth.
In this case,  I grew to realize I had an interest in creating a positive, affordable green outlet for sepulture in my region.
Great word, sepulture.
Seven generations. Wow.
I look forward to your information share. I am grateful.
Thank you!
Mo
 
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Elizabeth is great! When we wanted to create a permaculture food forest in the form of a natural burial cemetery, Elizabeth was very helpful and quite generous in sharing her wisdom and understanding. Nowadays, when someone comes out to tour the Herland Forest cemetery, if they have questions about the funeral side of natural burial, we just give them a copy of the Green Burial Guidebook.

 
pollinator
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I am so glad to hear about this book! It is needed! Burning or a box do not suit me at all.

As it Will also be about legislation… Will you be talking about the US or also Europe?

By the way I discover there is a zero waste forum! I am not at 0 but I do my best.
 
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Welcome Elizabeth, I have an image of how I want to be buried, a large-ish plot of large gravel, interred on the surface, a coffin-like cover, heavy, with slots cut in its surface to allow in the elements & small critters, and possibly staked down. When I am reduced to bones, disinterred, the metal parts removed and cleaned, could be interesting paperweights, and my bones sent to someone like Wedgwood, to make a set of bone China of my design. My relatives would no doubt resist the temptation of eating from them, but they may bring them out, set them up, and remember me. The gravel, once it releases the bodily fluids, solids, and oils, will be removed.
 
Walt Patrick
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Curt Peterson wrote: I heard a discussion on NPR on this subject, it may have been you.
There was a mention of composting in wood chips as being very effective
Is this something you know about and is it discussed in your book
what size of a pile of wood chips aged? or fresh  would a microrrhizae inocculant be needed
how long does it take

Curt: Composting human remains in wood chips is our standard practice in the Herland Forest. Here's a link to an article on human composting that describes how we combine a person's remains with 200 gallons of wood chips gleaned from our forest waste. I can't tell you how long the process takes since it takes place in the grave and we don't disturb the remains after interment. We just plant a tree and a bunch of daffodils (to keep the ground squirrels at bay) on the grave.
 
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Good morning and welcome.
We have an interest in offering our 50 acre Pacific ocean farm as a hu-composting RIP location, along the lines of Recompose of Washington.
We are waiting for Oregon to join Washington with legislative approval.
We would be excited to accept pre-interest gestures.
We have all the necessary facilities and a natural farm we intend to keep in native habitat.
 
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Welcome to permies, Elizabeth.  

I've told my wife I want to be buried the cheapest way possible.  I see no reason to impoverish the family any more than necessary with my death.  Her response reflects her personality.  She smiled at me very sweetly and said.  "You'll be dead, so I'll do whatever I want to!"  

Funerals are important only for the living as a means of saying goodbye.  I don't see why they need to be expensive.  The only thing I want is for them to make darn sure I'm dead.  I always thought that was one of the reasons for the formaldehyde (seems a bit of overkill, a quart of vinegar in the veins would probably make sure you didn't wake up 6 feet under.  I can see why the Govt wants a Dr to say you're dead.  Otherwise everyone the IRS is after would suddenly "die".  I also see a reason for them to want to know who, when and where burials occur.  Otherwise it would be a convenient way to get rid of annoying people.  I can see the conversation now.  

Sheriff     "I heard you buried Joe Blow last week.  Tell me about it!"
Me            "Not much to tell.  He died, so we buried them."
Sheriff     "How did he die?  How did you know he was dead"
Me           "He just looked dead!  We all agreed he was dead!  None of us are doctors or anything, but he was starting to stink.  He kept shouting he wasn't dead, but you won't find 5 people in this town who'll believe anything that guy might say!"

I also don't see the need for graveyards.  I guess some folks are afraid of the dead.  I'm not sure why, unless you've been mean to them personally.  This old world has had people living and dying on it for a very long time.  That means that you are probably surrounded by old graves, some thousands of years old, some only a few hundred.  I read about a guy in Michigan who's dog found an ancient indian grave during a walk in the woods.  (they found the skeleton, so I guess it was exposed on the surface or only slightly under).  He made the mistake of praising the dog and the dog has since found dozens more.  The guy says he is afraid to take the dog for a walk in the woods anymore because it will just find another old body.  

If I were buried under a young tree, so it could obsorb my nutrients, what kind of tree would I pick?
If I'm kind of sweet, and like to be useful, maybe a peach.  More likely an apple, because peaches dont last long.  Although if I were cut down in my prime, the peach might be poetic.
If I'm good for lots of things, maybe a chestnut, oak or hazel.
If you just can't keep me down, maybe a black locust, chestnut or hazel, because they keep coming back from the roots.
If I'm prickly, maybe a black locust or osage orange.
If I'm just a cool spot on a hot day, maybe a horse chestnut.

 
Posts: 14
Location: La Peche, West Quebec; hardiness zone 4a
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Welcome, Ms. Fournier!
I'm very glad that your book is now available.
 
pollinator
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I am in Arizona. Here, you can get permission from your county to create a 'designated cemetery on your own real estate.  It is good to start these discussions, since the subject is so close, so so unfamiliar to talk about, and the government regulations (by states) are so variable.
 
Posts: 91
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Welcome Ms. Fournier.

Would nt it be great if we turned some of the many polluted post industrial sites into green cemetaries.  Level the old buildings, truck in contaminated soils and plant trees, grass  and dead people.  I bet in 300 years these blighted lands would look like paradise.

I think there is an opportunity here.  

Look forward to getting the book.
 
Elizabeth Fournier
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Hello to all of you, and thank you so much for being such a vibrant part of the permaculture community and conversation. Your insight to what we are trying to do here is so invaluable. I appreciate this thread and I appreciate the questions and comments. Please keep them coming!

Charles, the material medium of linen would be fantastic for a shroud or to wrap a body, and it is perfect because it is biodegradable, an inexpensive resource, and non bleached. If you need a few shroud diagrams with directions, I am happy to provide them.

Walt, your expertise, passion, and honesty is absolutely appreciated and shows throughout everything you do. I very much appreciate your support of my work, and I equally support you and all your ventures. If any of you are able to make it to the Washington area where Herland Forest resides, I highly recommend you getting ahold of Walt and making the trip to his
natural burial forest.

 
Elizabeth Fournier
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Mark,

It's certainly refreshing to hear about the zoning differences in the state of Arizona. I'm going to look into that as I would love to learn more. I'm very curious if this is adaptable to all counties, lot size, etc. How fascinating!
 
Jeff Marchand
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Elizabeth,

I'd love to know how long it takes for bones and teeth to disappear when a human body is hot composted.   Ive always thought that bones take just about forever.  But if thats the case why are nt we constantly tripping over animal bones when we walk in the woods?  Predation?

Thanks
 
Tom Condon
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Mountains push up from the mantle, wear away, there is a constant covering of the ground by silt, dust & dirt. Things get buried. I see that they found the grave of the ship Captain from Jamestown, just his bones, with teeth no doubt. Tours are given of the European catacombs, all the stacked bones from as far back as  the first millennium A. D. Bones can be ground, like Jack's giant put in his bread.
 
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Elizabeth Fournier, what a privilege to have you here and looking forward to reading your book "The Green Burial Guidebook!" Wishing you great success with your new book!

Malisa Davis
 
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Welcome Elizabeth,

My sister in law, Dee Dee, passed away at the young age of 39. Her parents had to buy two plots and an oversized coffin and vault. $20,000 dollars that her parents needed elsewhere.

I am claustrophobic and actually considered cremation from the fear of being buried alive.

A couple years ago I heard of green burials, I started researching it. But when the subject of it was discussed amongst family members, it was shot down quickly.
An aunt had a beautiful 18 acre home site atop a small West Virginia mountain top. Woods, pastures and a couple small cow ponds. She wasn't asking much in my opinion, 70,000. I thought the site was perfect for a green burial cemetery.

I drive truck over the road for a living. I see many things, one is cemeteries. Over-crowded, headstones against each other, do they bury the dead like posts, head up? Even when they aren't, it's no place you want to visit.
Old soapstone headstones, broken, falling over, all family long gone, and past caring. It makes so much more sense to bury ourselves and our loved one's as a hundred  and some years ago.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Looking forward to reading your book,

Mike
 
El Rowlatt
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A book on Green Burials - brilliant.
Welcome, Ms. Fournier!
 
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This is such a difficult topic for families to deal with.  I have had conducted more death investigations than I can recall, the process is usually the same in that the family of the deceased is usually in shock and at a loss with what to do with their loved ones.  If the deaths are suspicious (I can only speak for CT) the Medical Examiner takes the body's for autopsy and then facilitates with final arrangements.  If the deaths are non suspicious and the body's are released by the state and the families are left with making a decision on final arrangements. Our local funeral homes have excellent staff. They are wonderful in assisting people, however, i always wished there was some resource people could have prior to the event.  Thank you for putting out this book, I look forward to reading it.  
 
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I just bought the book, thank you! I hope to have my own composting cemetery when I grow up! Let's see what I learn about that with your book!
 
Mark Kissinger
pollinator
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Elizabeth Fournier wrote:Mark,

It's certainly refreshing to hear about the zoning differences in the state of Arizona. I'm going to look into that as I would love to learn more. I'm very curious if this is adaptable to all counties, lot size, etc. How fascinating!



In Mohave County, the process costs $540, and takes two approval hearings. The County Health Department also has a say. As far as I can tell, there are differences in the requirements if you are considering a 'public' cemetery (as a business?), or if you are setting up a family sanctuary.

 
Elizabeth Fournier
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Great comments, questions, thoughts....wow!

Jeff - Regarding the hot composting, since the 18-day mark is what I have continually heard for most breakdowns, I would suspect the only departure for teeth and bones would be metals, filings, density, size, etc. Hard to give a for certain answer.

Mark - Thank you for the Mohave County structure. Again, this is really some progress!

Xisca - My green burial knowledge is most strong regarding U.S. rules and regulations.

Tom - What a grand story!

Mike - You will find vertical burial in places such as Malaysia and Australia, but not in the states.

In green solidarity,
Elizabeth
 
Elizabeth Fournier
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Dave Mason wrote:Good morning and welcome.
We have an interest in offering our 50 acre Pacific ocean farm as a hu-composting RIP location, along the lines of Recompose of Washington.
We are waiting for Oregon to join Washington with legislative approval.
We would be excited to accept pre-interest gestures.
We have all the necessary facilities and a natural farm we intend to keep in native habitat.



Dave - This is quite wonderful. I would promptly send a note over to Recompose: https://www.recompose.life/contact
 
Tom Condon
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This comment reminded me of something. I am close to a dentist who gave me some insider info, she is banned from revealing to the public. We are told that amalgam fillings are safe, but there are very stringent rules regarding disposal of amalgam, (mercury), fillings that are removed. They are regarded as highly toxic, and have more stringent disposal rules than bio-waste. That is an important consideration for a company if that company is composting people for food fertilizing purposes. I don't understand the business model of these operations. I am speculating.
 
Elizabeth Fournier
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Tom -   Would you be surprised to learn that if a family would like the gold fillings or the teeth back prior to a cremation or burial, either the family or a forensic dentist needs to retrieve the teeth? Funeral homes and cremator operators do not do this procedure, nor have I ever met one who physically has done it. Same goes for the forensic dentist. I have been in the funera industry 29 years and never once have been able to find a dentist who is willing to come in and take care of this for a family. I've called around to several funeral homes in the area and they, too, do not have anyone on file to call. So teeth end up getting burned or buried. They are truly the property of the family but there is a shortage on removal options.
 
author
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Hi Elizabeth, welcome to the forum! I look forward to reading what you have written. :-)
 
Tom Condon
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Elizabeth Fournier wrote:Tom -   Would you be surprised to learn that if a family would like the gold fillings or the teeth back prior to a cremation or burial, either the family or a forensic dentist needs to retrieve the teeth? Funeral homes and cremator operators do not do this procedure, nor have I ever met one who physically has done it. Same goes for the forensic dentist. I have been in the funera industry 29 years and never once have been able to find a dentist who is willing to come in and take care of this for a family. I've called around to several funeral homes in the area and they, too, do not have anyone on file to call. So teeth end up getting burned or buried. They are truly the property of the family but there is a shortage on removal options.



Let me contact the funeral home, and I'll come in with a pliers. (Thats a joke. I wouldn't want to do that to a loved one, but someone I sign permission could come do it to me for my family.) I would do it if asked by family or friends.
    I dated a hairdresser in the '80s who rented an apartment from a mortician. She had her own business, and some months she was a bit tight. She lived in fear that she would be forced to do hair for a deceased person if she was short on rent. Congratulations on your book. My bone China concept is a bit tongue in cheek. I was afraid someone would take me literally, and castigate me over it. The best for you, in all aspects of life!
 
Jeff Marchand
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Thanks Elizabeth,

I hot composted a dead goat in a pile of manure this spring and have spread the final product on my garden.  Seems like the larger bones,skull and teeth all survived the process but ive not seen many small bones.  I wonder if people who would go for hot composting would care if after  day 19 their bones were collected and ground up.  Either stored in an urn or used as garden fertilizer.  For myself id love to be re-incarnated as a tomato plant. Circle of life.

Or maybe bury the bones and plant a tree on top.  I believe but dont know for a fact that trees will disolve bones looking for minerals.  Does anyone know this to be true?

When ever I plant a specimen tree I try to put an animal bone in the hole as slow release mineral supplement.
 
master steward
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It is midnight on Saturday the 13th, and what better time for me to announce the four winners of The Green Burial Guidebook!

****Drum roll, please!*****



The winners are:

Ruth Meyers
Sonja Draven
Matthew Nistico
Anne Miller


Congratulations! I'll be sending each of you a moosage. Please reply to it by Sunday to claim your prize!


And, a huge thanks to Elizabeth for joining us and teaching us all so much about having more budget and environmentally friendly burials. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience with us!
 
Elizabeth Fournier
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Congratulations to the 4 winners of my book. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any further questions, and please spread your gained knowledge of green burial -- you'll be glad you did.

A big thank you to Permies for allowing me to be a part of your fantastic forums!

Elizabeth
 
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