Environmentalism Goes Beyond the Grave





  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

Berkeley residents are known for being environmentally conscious, and last weekend, they had the opportunity to learn how to continue this passion while six feet under.

With a display of banana-leaf caskets and urns made of pumpkin gourds, a funeral fair held at Berkeley's Grace North Church hoped to educate people on eco-friendly burial options.

According to Liz O'Connell-Gates, one of the organizers of the event, the funeral fair was meant to show people that it is still possible to be environmentally conscious even in death.

"I think people found it was very educational," she said. "I think that along the way I became educated about green funerals­-I had never thought about it before."

Ann Arnold, a member of the Board of Trustees for Grace North Church and co-organizer of the fair, said the idea of a funeral fair came to her nine months ago while brainstorming a way to get the community to rent the church.

"We were trying to have more people come into the church and have their ceremonies there," Arnold said. "(A friend) said, 'You don't want weddings, do funerals; they're much more fun,' so I said, 'Let's have a funeral then.'"

After nine months of preparation, the funeral fair featured stone-carvers, hat-makers and a choir to help set an upbeat rather than somber mood, O'Connell-Gates said.

One of the vendors at the fair, Jane Hillhouse, owner of Final Footprint, displayed her biodegradable caskets and urns.

Her caskets, made out of bamboo, banana leaf and cardboard, may not seem traditional but have become fashionable in recent years, Hillhouse said.

"They're very, very handsome," Hillhouse said. "David Carradine was buried in one of my caskets. They are very pretty caskets."

Fernwood Cemetery, located in Mill Valley across the bay, is one of the few cemeteries in the United States that has dedicated a portion of its land to green burials. Approximately 150 to 200 of the burials at the site are green burials.

Kathy Curry, the manager of Fernwood, said green burials are not only good for the environment but they are also considerably cheaper than a typical metal-plated casket.

"We've had people buried in pine boxes, cardboard or in a fabric shroud," Curry said. "Compared to the traditional burial ... it is less expensive."

Some burials, which include the cost of paperwork filing, ditch digging and space reservation, can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. According to Curry, the minimum cost for a green burial is $7,500.

Considering the success of the fair, O'Connell-Gates said she hopes to do another fair in the future so that more people can know about eco-friendly burial alternatives.

"It was a really good educational opportunity," O'Connell-Gates said. "People have found it is better to go into the ground and have a positive final footprint."

Tags: GREEN FUNERAL FAIR


Contact Kelly Strickland at [email protected]



Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
Business
Image Pet shop may occupy planned Goodwill
After failed negotiations with the landlord and resistance from the busines...Read More»
Business
Image Sports bar to open on Telegraph Avenue
About three months ago, Larry Blake's Restaurant and Bar was boarded up aft...Read More»
Business
Image Electronic waste recycling store opens in downtown...
James Kao is ready to restore or recycle old electronics...Read More»
Business
Image Amoeba Music named best record store in U.S.
Marc Weinstein and David Prinz own the largest collection of records in...Read More»
Business
Image Hundreds file into McDonald's for its National Hir...
Hundreds of job seekers filed into Berkeley's two McDonald...Read More»
Business
Image Downtown district may see new funds
The Downtown Berkeley Business Improvement District, responsible for impro...Read More»
Right Arrow




Job Postings

White Space