Area cemetery goes green

BALA CYNWYD - November 7, 2008 - For some, it's influencing how they're treated after their deaths.

West Laurel Hills Cemetery dedicated about an acre of land for green burials.

They made the move after several requests.

Cemetery president, Nevin Mann, says his cemetery is the first to go green in our area.

"This is the way we did funerals before the civil war, before the victorian era," Mann said.

Stella Gabuzda wants to be buried in West Laurel Hills, and she's considering a green burial.

"This seems almost like a compromise, something between the traditional and cremation," Gabzuda said.

Going least in terms of the dead...means:

-No tractors...just good old shoveling.
-No vaults
-No Headstone
-No treated wood, just natural wicker baskets or a shroud.

Grasses and plants will be planted...and eventually a GPS system will mark ones location.

"In the meantime we're going to use natural stone, natural flat stone, and we're just going to engrave the names and dates on the stone," Mann said.

"Green burial is basically what most of humanity has cared for it's dead for hundreds of years," said Joe Sehee of the Green Burial Council. "It means ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

The Green Burial Council promotes the process and certifies cemeteries that want to go green.

"We bury enough reinforced concret to build a two lane highway from New York to Detroit. We bury enough metal caskets each year to rebuild the Golden Gate Bridge," Sehee said.

West Laurel Hills says it's first come, first burial here at the cemetery.

It's certainly not a race Stella wants to win, but she's not ruling out a green burial.

"I like the site... I think the site is beautiful. Let's just say I'm making my first steps toward it and I think the likelihood is pretty good," Stella said.

A green burial here will cost you about $5000.

A couple thousand dollars less than a basic traditional burial.

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