Source: Mountain XPress
Written By: Jessica Wakeman
Published: December 10, 2021
Featured: End-of-Life Preperation, Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, Mallory McDuff, Green Burial
As a professor of environmental education at Warren Wilson College, Mallory McDuff is experienced in teaching the next generation about environmentalism. “Climate is front and center for them,” she says. With the Dec. 7 publication of her book Our Last Best Act: Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love, she’s now educating anyone curious about a conservation-minded death.
The book begins with McDuff’s journey through her own parents’ deaths. Her father left directives for a conservation-minded burial, including no embalmment (due to the use of the toxin formaldehyde) and a handmade coffin. From there, she explores options like natural burial in conservation cemeteries, home funerals, flame cremation, mushroom-infused burial suits and other eco-conscious approaches.
Prior to researching the greener alternatives, McDuff’s own last wishes were to be cremated — that is, until she learned about the fossil fuels involved. The idea for the book formed during a presentation at All Souls Episcopal Church with Cassie Barrett from Carolina Memorial Sanctuary in Mills River that discussed the environmental impact of cremation. McDuff “realized that cremation is probably not the best option for me, given all the more sustainable choices that I have,” she explains.