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Pushing up the Daisies
Friday 21 January
Dylan Winter visits the Natural Burial Ground near Rugby to find out more about the green funeral.
Like it or not, there are a lot of us, and we all have to go sometime. It may be something that we prefer not to think about, but what we do with our loved ones when they die can either hinder nature or help give it a secure future.
For people who have lived their life with a love of the great outdoors, a mown plot in a churchyard or municipal cemetery just isn't the return to nature they had in mind. Until fairly recently if you wanted to get back to nature you would have to persuade your loved ones to scatter your ashes in a peaceful spot. But over the last ten years, a quiet revolution has been taking place throughout the country, led by pioneers like Ken West. Ten years ago he founded the UK's first woodland burial site in Carlisle. This year there are around 200 natural burial sites ranging from ancient woodlands to wildflower meadows and everything in between. At these sites, bodies are left un-embalmed to prevent soil pollution, and wooden coffins are a definite no-no. Bodies are buried in cardboard, wicker or bamboo coffins and graves are often marked only by a tree.
In the first programme in the series, Dylan visits Greenhaven Natural Burial Ground near Rugby - one of the longest running woodland burial sites in the UK. There, he meets the farmer-turned burial ground owner who manages the site, and Ken West, who helped kick-start the green burials movement ten years ago. He also meets scientists working on the impact of cremation on the environment, and speaks to an American company who have found an intriguing way to turn cremated remains into a thriving coral reef.
The Natural Death Centre is a charitable organisation offering information on how to go about organising a green funeral, or any other kind of independent funeral (one without a funeral director).
Eternal Reefs is a company which incorporates cremated remains into the concrete used to create artificial coral reefs.