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A Natural Transition: North Carolina’s Embrace of Green Burials and Aquamation

North Carolina Green Burial and Aquamation

In an era where environmental conservation is paramount, people are exploring eco-friendly alternatives in every facet of their lives, including death care. North Carolina stands out as a beacon of change in this respect, championing the cause of aquamation—a sustainable alternative to conventional burial methods. Here’s a deep dive into how this state is redefining end-of-life care with a keen focus on the environment.

Understanding the Environmental Repercussions of Contemporary Funeral Practices

Conventional funeral practices can be detrimental to the environment and contribute to climate change. 

  • Carcinogenic Chemicals:  Embalming, a common procedure, employs chemicals like formaldehyde to preserve the bodies of the deceased. 
  • Caskets, vaults, and headstones: There is a high carbon footprint of materials used in conventional funeral practices and these materials are a burden on our environment. 
  • Land Strain: Cemeteries in towns and cities all over the US are nearing capacity. It is simply not sustainable to keep preserving dead bodies and cutting off land from productive use. 
  • Emissions from Cremation: The energy-intensive process of fire cremation releases toxic gases and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the air we breathe. 

A Closer Look at Green Burials: Nature’s Way of Saying Goodbye

The green burial movement is not just an alternative; it’s a nod to the cycles of nature and life itself. A green burial ensures:

  • Natural Decomposition: Foregoing the use of embalming chemicals or adopting non-toxic versions ensures that the body returns to the earth without introducing harmful chemicals.
  • Eco-Friendly Encasements: Instead of hardwood caskets, biodegradable options, or even simple burial shrouds, are preferred. These materials break down over time, allowing the body to become one with the soil.
  • Conservation of Natural Habitats: Many green burial sites double as conservation grounds, ensuring that the land remains undisturbed and can serve as a habitat for local flora and fauna.
  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: By skipping concrete vaults and other resource-intensive burial structures, green burials inherently have a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Holistic Approach: Beyond the physical aspects, green burials often involve ceremonies that emphasize natural cycles, connection to the earth, and the continuity of life, offering families a sense of closure and unity with nature.

The Benefits of Aquamation

Alkaline hydrolysis, commonly known as aquamation, is a technique that uses water, controlled heat, and an alkaline solution to gently break down the body. The result is bone remains that are returned to the family in an urn.  

Advantages of Aquamation:

  • Energy Efficiency: Traditional cremation’s energy demands are significant compared to aquamation, which uses about 90% less energy.
  • Zero Atmospheric Pollutants: Unlike its fiery counterpart, aquamation releases no emissions. This means no harmful particulates, dioxins, or mercury—a stark contrast to fire cremations.
  • Preservation of Resources: The process requires fewer resources overall, from the energy consumed to the materials required, ensuring a smaller ecological footprint.
  • Natural Alignment: Mirroring the organic process of decomposition, though expedited, aquamation is in line with green burial values and nature’s way of recycling life.
  • Safe Byproducts: The liquid byproduct is rich in amino acids, salts, and nutrients. Being sterile, it poses no threat and can be repurposed for agricultural or industrial uses or simply returned to the water system.

North Carolina is leading the way in sustainable death care

North Carolina is setting a precedent for how states can approach end-of-life care with an ecological conscience. Let’s delve deeper into this pioneering effort.

1. Legislative Trailblazing

North Carolina’s government has been proactive in understanding the changing tide of preferences in end-of-life practices. Their response:

  • Regulatory Support: The state has been quick to modify regulations to support and encourage the rise of eco-friendly options such as aquamation. These modifications ensure that businesses can adopt and offer these services without bureaucratic roadblocks.
  • Green Initiatives: Incentives and support are offered to funeral homes and businesses transitioning to or incorporating green practices. This proactive approach accelerates the adoption of sustainable death care.
  • Educational Mandates: North Carolina’s push for awareness doesn’t stop at the public level. Funeral director programs and related educational streams are now including comprehensive sections on green practices, ensuring the next generation of professionals is well-versed in sustainable methods.
2. Community Engagement and Advocacy

Communities within North Carolina have rallied behind the idea of sustainable death care. How this enthusiasm manifests:

  • Local Workshops: Towns and cities across the state host workshops and informational sessions on green burials, aquamation, and other eco-friendly death care practices. These events, often sponsored or supported by local funeral homes, provide residents with valuable insights.
  • Support Groups: Groups and associations dedicated to promoting green end-of-life practices are sprouting up across North Carolina. These organizations act as both support and information hubs for families and individuals exploring their options.
  • Collaborative Efforts: By fostering partnerships between local environmental groups and death care providers, North Carolina has seen a rise in collaborative efforts aimed at educating the public, sharing resources, and amplifying the message of sustainability.
3. Expansion of Green Facilities and Services

In response to growing demand and legislative support, North Carolina has witnessed:

  • Aquamation Centers: The rise in facilities offering aquamation is notable, providing residents with accessible and affordable options for this green alternative to traditional cremation.
  • Green Burial Grounds: Natural burial grounds, which double as conservation spaces, are becoming more common. These serene places not only offer a final resting space but also serve as habitats for local flora and fauna, maintaining ecological balance.
  • Holistic Services: Recognizing the increasing demand for holistic experiences, several funeral homes now offer ceremonies and rituals aligned with nature. These services, which might include tree planting ceremonies or the use of sustainable materials, complement the ethos of green burials.
In Summary

North Carolina’s approach to sustainable death care is multifaceted, blending policy, community engagement, and service expansion. As a result, the state serves as a model for others, highlighting the profound impact of a collective commitment to honoring life and death in harmony with nature.

Endswell Aquamation

The choices we make, even in death, can echo our respect and commitment to the planet. By choosing methods like green burial and aquamation, we ensure our final mark is gentle, respectful, and in harmony with the earth. North Carolina’s pioneering efforts in this arena give hope for a world where green end-of-life practices become the gold standard.

At Endswell, we understand the importance of environmental stewardship. That’s why we offer a simple, affordable aquamation service that includes everything the family needs with no hidden fees.

Choosing aquamation with Endswell means embracing a practice that aligns with your values. We’re here to guide you through the process, ensuring a respectful and eco-friendly farewell for your loved one.

Contact us at 919.907.9777. We can answer any questions you have about the aquamation process as well as Endswell Aquamation services.

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