Lexington planning to offer green burials at Westview Cemetery
By Joy Richard
firstname.lastname@example.org Posted Jan 8, 2019 at 3:56 PM
Read original article at Wicked Local Lexington
The phrase ashes to ashes, dust to dust paints a portrait of
death invokes one’s natural return to the Earth. But, as sensitivities
around traditional burials use of chemicals have grown, some communities
like Lexington and Westford are looking for greener options.
term “green burial” may sound new, but it is a return to the historic
way of laying a body to rest. It is an ecological, natural way of
burying a body, which was common practice until the Civil War. At
present, more than 90 percent of burials around the globe are done
without embalming, metal casket, burial liner or vault. There are no
traditional headstones. If there are grave markers they are typically
flush with the ground and are sometimes stones found in the area of the
Lexington and Westford are two of the first communities in the area to consider the move to environmental burials.
Director of Public Works David Pinsonneault confirmed that the town has
been working with Green Burial Massachusetts, a statewide volunteer-run
organization that provides educational programs about the value and
benefits of having environmentally-friendly burials. The group initially
met with town officials late last summer, and made a formal
presentation in September. A proposal was approved by the Board of
Selectmen, Pinsonneault said. If all goes according to plan, Lexington
residents should be able to have green burials in Westview Cemetery by
The demand for green burials hasn’t been massive in
Lexington, Pinsonneault said, but it is present. The draw for those in
town, he said, is twofold. Green burials can be cheaper since they don’t
require the typical embalming process, and the idea of doing less harm
to the environment is aligned with the eco-friendly mindset of many in
Lexington. The town recently passed a bylaw banning the retail use of
thin plastic bags, and other restrictions on environmentally harmful
materials like styrofoam could come sooner rather than later.
He expects the demand to rise once word spreads.
seems to be working its way into Massachusetts, a lot of people down on
the Cape and South Shore are doing it,” he said. “Lexington is a very
green community, it may be something that might rise in popularity once
it gets underway.”
In mid December, the Westford Cemetery
Commission appointed a sub-committee to help shape a proposal they will
hopefully present to residents at the upcoming spring Town Meeting.
The nuts and bolts of a green burial
it comes to the preparation of the deceased for a green burial,
refrigeration, dry ice, or ice packs are used to keep the body cool if
immediate burial is not possible, or desired by the family.
body is placed in either a biodegradable container such as a pine box , a
cardboard coffin, or a natural-fiber shroud, which is then placed
directly into the grave. Flat memorial stone, or native plants/tree are
generally used as grave site markers.
Burial at 3 1/2 to 4 feet will allow for aerobic bacteria to enhance the natural decomposition process.
Ross Cristantiello contributed to this story. He can be reached at email@example.com.