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Green burial helps environment even after death
caskets pic
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Across the country, Americans are becoming more environmentally conscious. They’re driving hybrids, recycling, composting, and planting trees to offset their carbon footprint.

“Why not take it a step further?” asked Ben Sivils, assistant manager at Turlock Memorial Park & Funeral Home.

That’s right, even burials are going green these days.

In a new, test marketed service, the Turlock Memorial Park & Funeral Home is offering funeral services that reduce a carbon footprint in just about every way possible – even when you’re not around to leave real footprints anymore.

“We’re trying to offer something to a demographic that’s growing rapidly,” Sivils said. “My kids’ generation, they’re going to be more environmentally conscious because that’s the way they were raised.”

And just what makes up a green burial?

Organically grown flowers and programs printed on recycled paper are just a start.  Services are held at graveside with a small viewing in an onsite chapel, cutting vehicle emissions in the typical drive between church and cemetery.

Pall bearers wheel the casket to the gravesite on a cart, rather than the traditional hearse ride. Funeral goers are even asked to carpool, further cutting carbon emissions.

Even the caskets themselves are as green as possible, being made entirely of pine and unbleached cotton rather than the metal-lined, hardwood majority of coffins. The casket company plants new trees to replenish forests felled to make coffins. And, if families would like the casket stained, the stains used are environmentally conscious, water-based stains.

“Being environmentally responsible in your life, that’s something that can continue when you pass away,” Sivils said.

For the greenest of the green burials, Turlock Memorial Park and Funeral Home offers fully natural burials, with no embalming, though they must be completed within 48 hours of death. Industry researchers are hard at work developing more environmentally conscious embalming options, though as of right now none are ready for public use.

For the approximate one-third of Turlockers who choose cremation, the Memorial Park offers an efficient, natural gas-based burner, with a secondary burner which reduces emissions. Families who plan to spread ashes at sea can opt for a special urn that dissolves in water, easing the sometimes-messy process of scattering remains.

Turlock Memorial Park and Funeral Home still offers bog standard burials for those who aren’t interested in going green, of course. The new environmentally friendly options are just a way the funeral industry is trying to keep with the changing times and meet the diverse needs of clients in the most challenging of times.

“Every family is different and every family has a different need,” Sivils said.

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.