Efforts are underway in Connecticut to create a “green” burial ground.
Green burials are designed to have less of an impact on the environment. These burials often use biodegradable caskets. They do not use chemicals for embalming, hardwood caskets, varnishes, vaults or liners.
"This is the most comforting idea I've ever had of death," said Elizabeth Foley, founder of Connecticut Green Burial Grounds, an organization trying to establish cemeteries specifically for green burials, which are legal in Connecticut and all 50 states.
"This is not a new concept. Prior to 150 years ago, this is how things were done for millennia," Foley explained. "A shroud is another option, which would just be a linen or plain cloth material and a return to earth just cradled in that."
Two existing Connecticut cemeteries in Danbury and Deep River are already using a portion of their properties for green burials. But the Connecticut Green Burial Grounds group is pushing to create the region's first all-green cemetery. Foley said that a body in a grave can become compost from which new life can grow.
"Come back with your family and friends and say 'look, this a landscape that Grandma contributed to,'" Foley said.
A 2018 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association showed 48 percent of respondents were interested in exploring 'green' funeral options, mostly for environmental or cost-saving reasons.
"The funeral industry itself has changed dramatically," said P. Samuel Fulginiti, who owns Robinson, Wright & Weymer Funeral Home in Centerbrook. The funeral home has offered green funeral and burial options since 2009.
"There are people that just don't want that pomp and circumstance. You know, 'put me in a pine box, bring me to the cemetery and bury me in a grave'," said Fulginiti. He does not believe there is enough interest in Connecticut, at this point, to necessitate a standalone green burial ground.
"I know the idea's catching on," said Foley. She said her group is in talks with land trusts and private landowners to acquire the space they are looking for. Neither Foley nor her organization would reveal where that land is located. Foley said she did not want to derail discussions that could yield results in early 2019.
"People are afraid of what is new or different," said Foley. "I know that the people of Connecticut are ready for this."