Source: Mountain Xpress
Written By: Kay West
Published: May 25, 2019
Featured: Carolina Memorial Sanctuary
On the 11 hilly acres of Carolina Memorial Sanctuary in Mills River, the view encompasses woodland, meadow, wildflowers, native shrubs and McDowell Creek. Birdsong trills through the balmy spring air, the only sound other than the crunch of soles on trails. Hand-hewn wooden benches, placed slightly off the path, offer places for contemplative pause.
Almost fully absorbed into the landscape of North Carolina’s first Green Burial Council-certified conservation burial ground are 53 graves for people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds. Their commonality is a rejection of conventional funeral practices, particularly embalming and standard caskets.
According to the GBC, burials in the United States annually put 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluids — usually containing carcinogenic formaldehyde — 20 million feet of wood, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 17,000 tons of copper and bronze and 64,500 tons of steel into the ground. Green burial sites such as CMS offer an alternative with less environmental impact.