Living a green lifestyle and encouraging others to become environmentally friendly is often a lifelong commitment. Protecting the environment throughout our existence can give purpose to one’s life and is a way of reciprocating what the environment provides for us. We can put an immeasurable amount of effort into becoming green throughout our lives; however, there is one, unavoidable phenomena that can interrupt these efforts: death. We are able to leave a green imprint on the environment and create change during our time on Earth, but is it possible to die green.
There are simple ways to be buried in a sustainable way. The most obvious is choosing cremation over a traditional ground burial. Cremation ensures that your remains take up no additional land space. Despite this conservation of land, your ashes surely end up somewhere over time. Whether it is on a loved one’s mantle, spread at the family cottage, or maybe in a mausoleum, your remains will inevitably take up space. But what if you want an eternal connection with the Earth, one that allows you to contribute to the environment even in death? Well, what if I said that your legacy can actually live on in a thriving ecosystem?
A service called “Eternal Reefs” is an unorthodox, yet intriguing, memorial alternative that transforms cremation urns and ashes into a permanent, ecologically flourishing legacy. The human remains are combined with “100 percent natural cast concrete” to create a “pearl.” This pearl can then be personalized by family and friends with handprints, engraved messages, or even small mementos. On the day of the memorial service, friends and family are taken to the oceanic resting place where they can observe the placement of your “reef ball” into the reef. Through this reef ball, you will permanently be part of and contribute to an established aquatic ecosystem.
A service like Eternal Reef provides the opportunity to create life through death. Your reef will be home to a variety of new life. From mosses, to fish, to turtles, and beyond, your remains will be part of an entirely new life cycle. Even in death, one can be committed to preserving habitat and helping nature flourish.
Eternal Reef works in partnership with the Green Burial Council who oversees types of green burials. The Green Burial Council believes that “end-of-life rituals are meant to let us honour the dead, heal the living, and invite in the divine.” Their aims are to embrace environmental beliefs and allow individuals to extend their green efforts into the afterlife.
The state of the oceans today is deteriorating. Although this is a reality that can often be demoralizing, having services that satisfy cultural rituals and family wishes whilst bettering the environment is necessary for improving our current ecological situation. Perhaps if this service becomes mainstream, the entire world will pledge a commitment to keeping the oceans clean. Perhaps this may give us a new perspective that will make us think twice before we act: now, when we pollute the ocean, we are not only harming the environment, but we are disrespecting those who have passed on.
Visiting a loved one’s memorial can be filled with mixed emotions: sadness, grief, and a reminder of what their life represented. Visiting your loved one’s Eternal Reef could be a completely new experience. Seeing the ecological changes, the new life forming around it, and the home it has become for sea life would be incredibly rewarding. There is a sense of pride in seeing what your loved ones are doing even after death. They have truly become a living legacy.
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