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Natural Burials

Some people now want to go out with the smallest environmental impact possible.

There are no memorials used in the Wagga cemetery natural burials section. The site is recorded on a map to allow location of the place of burial.

IT WILL come to all of us - death - and some people now want to go out with the smallest environmental impact possible.

Choosing a "greener way to go" may be a reflection of the way someone has lived their life, or possibly a way to set an example for future generations.

More people are opting for a green or natural burial, which keeps the burial site as natural as possible, as it becomes more apparent that we have an impact on the environment, in life as in death.

Natural burials are now among the services provided by Daniel Woods Funeral Care. Owner Daniel Woods said it was important to provide for the individual approach people have when dealing with death.

"Death is approached differently by everyone and dictated by cultural values, religion and belief systems," Mr Woods said.

"Green funerals mean different things to each person, but generally it is about making as little impact as possible on the environment when someone dies.

"In response to an ever-growing need to minimise our footprint on this earth, cemeteries in Australia are increasingly making available natural burial or green funerals options.

"Families choose a natural burial because it is considered an environmentally friendlier option that gives back to the earth, is less toxic and utilises less resources in comparison to traditional methods."

When Christopher Hains passed away recently, his family made the decision that a natural burial at Wagga cemetery would best reflect his beliefs.

"For us, Dad was very much about not leaving his mark on the earth," daughter Rowena said. "It was that side of natural burials that appealed to us.

"We had a discussion of how Dad would probably want to be buried

"We started researching different options that were a bit more natural. We did discuss cremation, but we wanted to put him back into the earth."

Natural burials have been available at the Wagga Wagga City Council cemetery since 2012, within a section of the grounds featuring plant species endemic to the area. They are also accepted at council's four rural cemeteries - Uranquinty, Humula, Tarcutta and Currawarna.

"For some people being buried in a eco-friendly coffin or shroud in a natural setting but still with a headstone and in a cemetery or burial grounds might be enough," Mr Woods said.

"For others it is being buried in the bush somewhere in a shroud with no marker, with the natural bushland growing around them.

"All these may achieve a reduction in carbon footprint from small steps, such as choosing an environmentally sustainable coffin, not having the body embalmed or washed with disinfectant, dressing the body in biodegradable clothing, not releasing balloons, through to full natural burials."

Of conventional burials, cremation is regarded as greener, but still emits 160kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, potentially along with other pollutants. Interment produces methane from anaerobic decomposition and graves sites require ongoing maintenance.

"A conventional burial disturbs the soil and landscape and will continue to produce CO2 emissions through the ongoing maintenance of the site, such as watering and mowing, as well as herbicide use," Mr Woods said.

"Natural burial sites avoid many of these environmental issues."

Mr Woods said the cost of a natural burial varies from site to site.

"You do still have burial fees and those can be more expensive than cremation or other burial options," he said.

"However, families choose a natural burial because it is considered an environmentally friendlier option that gives back to the earth.

"It is less toxic and utilises less resources in comparison to traditional methods."

Published in the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser, Saturday 4th May 2019

  • Daniel Woods Funeral Care is a supporter of Dying to Know Day - held this year on August 8 - a national day that brings to life healthy conversations about death.

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