Funeral houses in Australia are introducing Eco-Friendly burials, Natural-Burial in a bid to address the ecological impact of traditional burial systems. But some cultures seen in the west as barbaric and primitive, like the Islamist culture, has been practicing these eco-friendly burials for centuries.
Burial rites and practices are a window in the most cultural perceptions about life and death, the relationship between the living and the death, and even the population perception about itself and its environment.
With growing population, rapid urbanization and environmental degradation city planners, managers and residents are becoming increasingly becoming concerned about the impact of their actions on the environment. This coconscious and concerns are driving the green movement, sustainable planning and green urbanisation. Eco-Burial is one of such practices with the essence been to have little or no impact on the environment.
Gipsland Memorial Park in Travalgon in Australia, has announced that it will be introducing the Eco-Burial, a move expected to be followed by dozens of other funeral houses. Its manager, Mr Dennis Seymour told the Australian ABC that “With a natural burial … your body goes back into the environment again a lot quicker at a lower depth,”. “For an eco burial, the person’s body is placed in an untreated pine, or untreated timber coffin … or even a shroud without a coffin.”
Natural burials entails, using untreated timber instead of chemically treated wood, dressing the body in biodegradable clothing and preparing the body without, chemical preservatives and disinfectants, and finally, having no having no tombstone.
The idea of Natural Burial in the west began in 1993 in the City of Carlisle in the United Kingdom, through the efforts of the Municipal Cemetery manager Ken West. In the case of Carlisle, Ken West encouraged the bereaved family to plant oak trees rather than use tombstones on the head of the grave.
In Africa, most funeral houses and ecologist are also raising awareness of the impact of burial objects such as glasses, treated woods, and chemical used in preserving the dead on the continent.
Several non-western cultures have practiced natural burials for centuries, in particular, most Muslims bury their dead using cotton, in bio degradable clothes, often without coffins, and even where coffins are used they are often untreated woods.
However, several Muslim cultures also used tombstones and grave-linings which are also increasingly seen as ecologically unfriendly.
Maybe this call for a conversation between the west and non-western cultures and how both sides can learn from each other to contribute to the world’s efforts to combat climate change and environmental degradation.