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Green Goodbyes
From cardboard coffins to compost, a group of environmentalists are carving a greener path to the great hereafter.
Director: Hugh Hartford
Producer: Anson Hartford
Completion
July 2013

Death is a messy business. In America alone, 1.6 million tonnes of cement and over 870,000 gallons of embalming fluid - commonly containing formaldehyde - are buried along with 2.5 million caskets every year.

 

“What you have here is a landfill … a toxic landfill,” says Glen Ayers of the Green Burial Committee as he looks around a traditional graveyard in Massachusetts.

 

Proponents of natural burial want to reduce the pollution and resource waste associated with funerals, which also includes burying masses of hardwood and steel.

 

One solution is to use eco-friendly biodegradable coffins made out of cardboard or even banana leaves. Campaigners also hope to increase the number of natural burial sites, where plots blend in with the natural surroundings. There are currently fewer than 40 in the US.

 

Russell Beard travels to Massachusetts, US, to meet the people hoping to bid the world a green goodbye.

About 'earthrise'

'earthrise' is an award-winning series exploring solutions to the environmental challenges we face today.

 

The programme takes an upbeat look at ecological, scientific, technological and design projects all around the world, from a group of Dutch architects who design stunning buildings made from waste materials, to an ingenious project that has dramatically cut rhino poaching on a South African game reserve.

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