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Lafayette funeral home offers eco-friendly option after death

With the push to go green, some people are taking it a step further by making sure their sustainability lives on even after death.

Posted: Jun 26, 2019 5:59 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — With the push to go green, some people are taking it a step further by making sure their sustainability lives on after death.

It's called natural burial, and it's offered by more funeral homes than you might think. A Pew Research survey shows 75-percent of Americans are concerned about helping the environment.

"I think the idea of being accepted back into the Earth after I die sounds wonderful," said Lafayette resident Graham VanDeGrift.

It's a concept that may seem a little unusual, but natural burial is growing in popularity in the United States.

"Natural burial is no different from any other burial, except that you're using a casket or container, it's biodegradable," said Soller Baker Funeral Homes and Crematory Co-Owner John Benefiel.

Benefiel is familiar with the concept, and it's an option for people making final arrangements at many local funeral homes.

"The body is not embalmed or prepared," said Benefiel. "So, in that respect, it can be a little bit different from a traditional burial."

He said you don't even have to use a casket.

"The body could be wrapped in a shawl, blanket, that type of thing and then put into the ground," Benefiel added.

Just because it may seem like a more simple and natural process, does not mean it doesn't come with a high price tag.

"I think there was a misconception and people thought that in doing it this way, everything would be very inexpensive," Benefiel explained. "That's not necessarily true."

Although you may save money by opting for the less expensive "green casket" or no casket at all, other costs still add up.

"Having the service, whether it be here at the funeral home or at the grave, we're still providing that service," he said. "So, those costs don't really change."

However, Benefiel said it's not all that popular of an option at the funeral home.

"We've had some families that have come in and made arrangements in advance for that, but we haven't had that many," said Benefiel.

But some hope that will change.

"As it grows in popularity around the country and around the world, more people around Lafayette will see it as a positive thing and hopefully look at it as an alternative," said Lafayette resident Whitney Alexander.

"I, personally, would enjoy having it," explained VanDeGrift. Maybe as a tree planted on where I'm buried for a remembrance of me that is alive."

Spring Vale Cemetery in Lafayette has a special place for those wanting a natural burial.

Graves are hand dug in the area called the "Preserve". That allows for a smaller carbon footprint because heavy machinery isn't used.

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