Call for green burial corridors alongside roads, railways and country footpaths

A leading public health expert is calling for a strategic initiative to develop green burial corridors alongside major transport routes because British graveyards and cemeteries are rapidly running out of room. With 500,000 deaths annually in England and Wales, it is likely that there will be no burial space left within five years.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor John Ashton points to the recent announcement of a scheme to plant 130,000 trees in urban areas as a contribution to reducing pollution and global warming. While lacking in ambition, he writes, it gives a clue as to what might be possible by joining up the dots of green environmentalism and human burial.

The environmental and human health impacts of the fluids and materials used in embalming and coffins is a matter of growing interest and concern, writes Prof Ashton, and resonates with the recent move towards simpler funeral approaches, not least green funerals with biodegradable regalia and coffins in woodland areas.

With little prospect of finding burial space for those who seek it, he writes, there is a real opportunity of stepping up to the mark as boldly as the Victorians did with the Metropolitan Burial Act of 1852.

Prof Ashton concludes: “A glimpse of what might be possible with political will and imagination can be seen by what has happened alongside long-forgotten canals by neglect and default where wildlife corridors have evolved over time. It is time to revisit the public health roots of human burial and connect them to a new vision for a planet fit for future generations.”

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From EurekAlert!

57 thoughts on “Call for green burial corridors alongside roads, railways and country footpaths

  1. Well, it’s not in the British tradition, but how about cremation? Use pollution scrubbers in the chimneys, and everyone can take Aunt Martha or Cousin Thomas home in a decorative urn and place it on the mantlepiece. It’ll sure save ground space and avoid using up trees for coffins and all the chemicals used in embalming that can leach into the soil.

    • Burial at a crossroads, that used to be British tradition I believe. I think it is illegal now as it was reserved for suicides? as a sign of public disapproval.

    • How about using Carbon filtration to extract all the toxic matter from such procedures? I hear water treatment companies have been using it for years cleaning used water, (some already passed by the management & their families)! Carbon filtration was all the rage a few years back for use in the home to cleanse drinking water of chlorine etc, as bottled water companies do, selling it on as natural “pure” drinking bottled water! (Apologies for the loud thud, that was my head falling off from laughing too much!)

    • I’ve told our children that when I die my body is to be cremated and then the ashes can be put in the space in the tops of firework rockets. This will give them a nice show and get rid of my ashes.

      James Bull

  2. The UK could always adopt the newly approved Seattle solution—composting. Of course, Inslee’s oh so green Washington State does not specify where the human compost is to be used. Super green Seattle veggies, as in Soylent Green (hint, in the movie’s last scene, made out of people)?

  3. Well the solution is obvious…Soylent Green. Remember Tuesday is Soylent Green day!

  4. Seriously burial is from a health point of view not a good idea in a country
    with a high rainfall.

    Its a part of the origin of Christianity. Back in the Middle East such burials
    are OK, dry conditions so not a problem. But when Christianity came to
    Europe the previous practice of cremation was frowned upon.

    Just what degree of pollution of the water supply from well dug nearby
    will never know, but certainly burial today is no longer a long term affair.

    Unless you pay for the plot for ever many will be dug up and the space
    reused..

    MJE VK5ELL

    • Burial of the dead is a tradition which very considerably predates christianity. Perhaps its time to use the technique found in prehistoric Hungarian graves: bury the dead vertically. A post-hole digger is all that would be needed.

    • That why embalming came into practice it was to stop the spread of disease. So now we are going to complain about embalming fluids and ruining out of space. God help us to many idiots have to much time on their hands.

    • I don’t know about pollution, but the graveyard near my parents has some of the best blackberry bushes I’ve ever picked at its lower boundary.

    • To my knowledge, in the US, ownership is in perpetuity. Or, at least, occupancy.

  5. alongside major transport routes

    The noise and vibration are not to my liking.
    A long-forgotten canal and a wildlife corridor would work.

    Or think about trade balance. Food is shipped in, then ship the bodies out.
    Think of the possibilities.

    • And consider the repercussions if you want to widen or shift the roadway!

      CLANCY BROTHERS
      They’re Moving Father’s Grave To Build A Sewer Lyrics

      They’re moving father’s grave to build a sewer
      They’re moving it regardless of expense.
      They’re moving his remains to lay down nine-inch
      drains
      To irrigate some rich bloke’s residence.
      Now what’s the use of having a religion?
      If when you’re dead you cannot get some peace
      ‘Cause some society chap wants a pipeline to his
      tank
      And moves you from your place of rest and peace…
      Now father in his life was not a quitter
      And I’m sure that he’ll not be a quitter now.
      And in his winding sheet, he will haunt that privy
      seat
      And only let them go when he’ll allow.
      Now won’t there be some bleedin’ consternation,
      And won’t those city toffs begin to rave!
      But it’s no more than they deserve, ’cause they had
      the bleedin’ nerve
      To muck about a British workman’s grave.

  6. In the future green world, where fossil fuels have been banned, after the greens have been hung from lamposts by angry starving peasants, a roadside burial would be quite appropriate.

    • Won’t the angry, starving peasants make sandwiches out of the Greenbeaners? Ya gotta get food somehow, you know.

  7. The situation is grave indeed. Mortifying even!
    Cremation makes the bodies disappear like magic, ala ‘Abra Cadaver’!

  8. Cremation. Still not seeing where the problem is with this quite easy solution. Fracking makes it cheaper and even more intelligent!

  9. “but how about cremation?” The answer will be too much carbon footprint. It’s not legal to spread the ashes in many places, so I think green burials would be resisted even more. The article above doesn’t mention it, but green burials are supposed to be shallow graves, so that the body decomposes.

  10. Sea burials in subduction zones, the ultimate recycling solution.

    Hmmmm. Wonder how much carbon dioxide is sequestered per corpse. Brings to mind that wonderful scene “Bring Out Your Dead” from Monty Python.

  11. I have a great idea.

    All these clever notions from the Greenbeaners and Warmunists should be something that THEY volunteer to do first, ahead of the rest of us. That way, the whole thing can be tested and by the time they’re done with it, the rest of us will be all that is left, and we will have gone on about our business.

  12. Cemeteries are simply a clear indication of how little appreciation humans have for deep time.
    Is a thousand years very long? Where will that cemetery be in 100,000 years? A million years? People don’t understand what forever means.
    Of course cemeteries in many parts of interior Canada and northern Europe will be buried under a kilometer thick Ice Sheet in about 60,000 years, then the ground scraped clean to bedrock once again.
    Throughout New England, the rock walls that are everywhere are slowly being buried by accumulating organic debris and dirt, so that tells us New England cemeteries will be too once someone stops “cleaning” them, even if the next Ice Sheet doesn’t get them first.

    Obviously the Egyptians were clearer about this idea and built the Great pyramids that will last many 10’s of thousand years, but even those will eventually erode back to dusty piles inside a million years. It is only the dry, barren landscape they are now in that helps preserve them. Compare those to the New World pyramids of the Yucatan or Central America such as Chechen-Itza or Tulum. The wet environment there (and throughout Central America) will rather quickly destroy through erosion compared to the Egyptian pyramids.

    No mankind simply has no appreciation of deep time.
    So like George Carlin said,
    “Pack your shit folks. We’re goin’ away. Just another failed mutation. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.”

    So your body in a casket in a cemetery is just a holding spot until nature gets around to re-processing you. Nothing is forever.
    For me cremation seems the only logical permanent solution.

  13. The energy consumption could be minimized if they just placed them deep in old mines. No digging required. Set it up so the methane from decomposition would be collected for generator use. Then even the dead could do their part for conserving fossil fuels.
    The deep mine sites would never be disturbed for road widening or subject to overland flooding floating the coffins out of the ground.

  14. The whole idea is not in line with current Gang Green logic.
    Forget how to safely dispose of the dead,they will just ban death.
    Easy Peasy.
    Same logic they are using to ban fossil fuels and “Carbon Pollution”.

    • Great idea! Just post signs that say, “No Death Zone!” Perfect! What could go wrong?

      • I have to admit, I find death to be very ‘triggering’. It’s about time we had a Safe Space where all this dying isn’t allowed.

        Now, if we could only do the same for ‘Taxes’.

        ~¿~

  15. That would cause some traffic chaos during funerals with lots of vehicles parked on the side of the road and crowds of mourners.

  16. Here’s a way to sequester carbon, reduce burial space, have your loved one with you all of the time plus have some some interesting conversations when asked about your bling.

    Of course, the green-obsessed will still object to the cremation so there is no winning solution for them

    Life Element: Carbon.
    Carbon[C] accounts for 18% of the human body; diamonds are crystalized carbon. Memorial diamonds are genuine diamonds grown by using the carbon contained within hair or cremation ashes. LONITÉ’s London branch office makes it possible to turn your loved one’s ashes or hair into close heart diamonds in Australia.

    Nitrogen [N] accounts for 3% of the human body, which gives the diamond a Naturally Amber™ colour, varying from light yellow to deep orange.

    Purely Colourless™ diamonds are created by removing nitrogen [N] from the carbon [C].

  17. When they could no longer find a living relative the stone marker was removed and leaned against the fence and someone else was buried on top with their marker. That is the way it was explained to me in England.

  18. I think it would be more appeasing to the Gods if we just tossed the bodies into active volcanos. There are about sixteen to twenty active ones at any given time, though many may not be suitable.
    We could be dumping thousands into Stromboli right now.

    imagine how perplexed geologists studying volcanic rocks a thousand years from now would be!

  19. When my mother died in Accrington Lancashire she was cremated and her ashes spread around a tree in the cemetery. Very civilized and good for the trees.

  20. Just do what they do in New Orleans cemeteries & other areas with high water tables — build up, above the ground.

  21. The Ferenghi vacuum dessicate the dead and sell them in nice labeled disks for a profit! > ; }

    • Still holding out for a Starfleet ‘launched out the photon torpedo tube’ burial.

      ~¿~

  22. I’m going to go for cremation. No offense against God, He will know where I am. Regular burial is just an a waste of money.
    Who ever ends up with the little ceramic box, or whatever, can just drop the ashes by spoonfuls when they go for a walk. A teaspoon here and there in the parks and on the boulevards will never be noticed.

  23. My wife and I are arranging “green” burial for ourselves in rural New York state. Just a matter of personal preference and our understanding of what physical death really entails.

    I never understood the insistence on spending thousands of dollars on a casket which is then buried in the Earth.

    A simple brass plaque will mark the spot under a long-lived oak tree to be planted between our graves.

    I’m not a fan of the hiway-side graveyard idea.

  24. Why not use the Parsee or Tibetan way? Let scavenging birds solve the problem and re-integrate us into Nature’s grand recycling scheme.

    Though I hear the parsee have serious problems in India since they killed off nearly all vultures with diclofenac.

  25. People could save a lot of space by cremation and placing ashes in a loved one’s coffin that’s already in place. You get the cemetery experience and maybe a plaque in the ground next to the original headstone.

  26. People could save a lot of space by cremation and placing ashes in a loved one’s coffin that’s already in place. You get the cemetery experience and maybe a plaque in the ground next to the original headstone.

    • A local VFW has been using a decommissioned armored vehicle to inter cremated remains. Unless someone blows it up those remains are going nowhere for several thousand years. I believe it is an M 48 Engineer variant.

  27. Don’t they use burial vaults into which the casket is placed. I think that it keeps the fluids from getting into the ground water and contaminating wells. Isn’t it cholera that is caused by this? So bury the dead along the road and then kill a whole bunch more.

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