Wilton to mull allowing green burials

WILTON – The trustees of the cemetery have received a request from several residents to consider allowing “green burials.”

According to Trustee Chairman John Jowders, “We couldn’t think of a reason why it shouldn’t be done.”

A green burial is one in which there is no embalming and no cement vault. The body is wrapped in a shroud or in a wooden box, and everything is biodegradable and allowed to return to nature.

“Basically, how things done years ago,” Jowders said.

Trustee Steve Elliott said a section toward the back and side of Laurel Hill Cemetery, up to 56 spaces, could be cleared and used. An adjoining section could be added later.

“Who knows how popular this will be?” Jowders said.

All of the spaces would be defined by corner markers. For posterity and the records ,to help family members locate the site and to keep the area from being used again in the future, the selectmen suggested requiring a flat stone marker for each grave. Once filled, the area would be allowed to return to the original forest.

The cost of green lots would be the same as for regular sites. Cremation burials would be allowed provided the ashes were in a biodegradable container or spread on the ground.

Placement of flowers and decorations on the graves wouldn’t be allowed.

Selectman Steve McDonough suggested that the services of a funeral director be required, partly because of state regulations concerning transportation.

“This is really not our call,” Chairman Kermit Williams said, “but up to the cemetery trustees.”

Advocates of green burials say it’s better for the Earth environmentally since it involves no chemicals and no non-biodegradable materials. Such burials have no effect on the water table or surrounding areas.

According to literature provided, “The difference is in the non-invasive, eco-friendly methods used to care for the body prior to and during burial, not in the ways we honor our dead. In fact, rituals are on the rise as families find the natural setting of green burials conducive to both traditional and spontaneous celebrations of life and acknowledgement of their loss.”