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September 13, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Established in 2008 by Bill Goddard and Chuck Worstell, Green Acres Cemetery calls itself the only exclusively eco-friendly cemetery in mid-Missouri. The land has been used for burials dating back to pre-Civil War times before modern embalming was mainstream.
Burial plots at Goddard’s cemetery cost between $885 and $1,185, with additional spaces going for $585. The Federal Trade Commission reports that the average burial costs $6,000 and can run as high as $10,000.
National Geographic reported that enough steel to build the Golden Gate Bridge — 90,000 tons — is buried in the form of coffins every year. Burying a body sans embalming in a shroud or wood-only casket can cut down on the amount of nonbiodegradable material so that the body and accessories can all become, quite literally, worm food.
Goddard says the reluctance of family members can be a downside to planning a green burial. Personally washing and dressing a body can be an undesirable task to those going through mourning. Goddard believes this is actually a more personal way of sending off a loved one: “It gives more self-warmth and feeling by showing your love for someone when you take it upon yourself and do it. As a final act, it’s a truly humbling experience.”
Sustainable burials are popular in the U.K.The British government’s website has a full page on environmentally friendly internment and methods of disposing of cremated remains in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the Earth.