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The Green Reaper

I am known as The Green Reaper, a name I have affectionately been given as the green burial funeral director, educator and advocate who is always ready to lend a hand, or a shovel. I have had the pleasure of assisting people with sustainable burial options and love helping in this aspect of death. It truly makes people's eyes sparkle to feel as though their last act on earth contributes to a positive purpose. Those who have laid loved ones to rest this way have found comfort in knowing the body will return to the earth as the circle of life continues.

So what is a “green burial?” It is primarily defined by doing less of what is involved in a typical burial. Traditional burials involve loading the body with embalming fluids, placing it in a casket, and interring the body and casket in the ground in a concrete burial vault. An eco-friendly burial can mean skipping the use of embalming fluids and burying the body in a biodegradable shroud or a simple wood coffin that will biodegrade over time.

One hundred and fifty years ago, most burials were green in nature. We also had a heck of a lot more deaths due to accidents and less advanced healthcare. When a family member would pass away, the steps were modest: bathe, prepare and place the body in a simple wood box. The body would stay at home for neighbor visits, and then the wood box body was buried in a family plot on the family farm or in a simple town or church cemetery. The funeral industry evolved to take care of matters of death and green burials all but disappeared.

Today, many people are trying to lessen the negative impact of human society on the environment in a multitude of ways: by supporting renewable energy, by driving hybrid or electric cars, by eating healthy foods, by promoting sustainable agriculture, by using their own cloth bags at the grocery store, and so on. Our green lifestyle is carrying over to how we handle the dead.

I am the owner and operator of Cornerstone Funeral Services, outside of Portland, Oregon, in a tiny town called Boring. That makes me the Undertaker of Boring, Oregon. I serve on the Advisory Board for the Green Burial Council, and live on a farm with her husband, daughter and many rescue goats.

Want to learn more? Please check out my funeral home, Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon.