Thursday, August 23, 2007
Earlier on this blog, I discussed the "green burial" movement. As a result, I was contacted by Mark Harris the author of a new book entitled Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial.
The following is from the press release for his most interesting book published by Scribner earlier this year:
By the time Nate Fisher was laid to rest in a woodland grave sans coffin in the final season of Six Feet Under, Americans all across the country were starting to look outside the box when death came calling.
Grave Matters follows a dozen such families who found in "green" burial a more natural, more economic and ultimately more meaningful alternative to the tired and toxic send-off on offer at the local funeral parlor.
Eschewing chemical embalming and fancy caskets, elaborate and costly funerals, they have embraced a range of natural options, new and old, that are redefining a better American way of death. Environmental journalist Mark Harris examines this new green burial underground, leading you into natural cemeteries and domestic graveyards, taking you aboard boats from which ashes and memorial "reef balls" are cast into the sea. He follows a family that conducts a home funeral and delivers a loved one to the crematory, another that hires a carpenter to build a pine coffin.
In the morbidly fascinating tradition of Stiff, Grave Matters details the embalming process and the environmental aftermath of the standard funeral. Harris also traces the history of burial in America, from frontier cemeteries to the billion-dollar business it is today, reporting on real families who opted for more simple, natural return.
For readers who want to follow their example and, literally, give back from the grave, an appendix details everything they need to know, from exact costs and laws to natural burial providers and their contact information.
Mark Harris is a former environmental columnist with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. His articles and essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, E: The Environmental Magazine, Reader's Digest, Vegetarian Times and Hope. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. He lives with his family in Pennsylvania.