Why I Want a Green Burial
by Eva Moseley
My mother died in San Francisco in 1971. My brother and I had no idea what to do next; Mother never let us go to funerals or visit sick friends in the hospital. So we went across the street from the Jewish hospital to a Jewish funeral home and were shown the usual array of coffins. Even then, I hated the ornate, heavy ones — but in a dark corner (as I remember it) was a plain pine box, with a wood six-pointed Star of David on the lid and a tiny cushion for the head. “I want that,” I said, but the undertaker said, “It’s only for the Orthodox.” We were Jewish but quite secular, so we bought a more expensive box, even though she was to be cremated. Of course, the undertaker was being dishonest: the Orthodox are required to use that sort of coffin, but that doesn’t mean nobody else can have one.
That plain wooden box started me thinking about what I want for myself. About a decade later I joined what was then the Memorial Society (now Funeral Consumers Alliance — FCA) and a dozen years ago I found others in the FCA of Eastern Mass who were also interested in simple, natural burial. Now some of us are Green Burial Massachusetts teamed up with land trusts to find the right parcels of land for green cemeteries, and able to accept tax-deductible donations to help in our search.