When it comes time to bury a loved one, our otherwise expansive worldview is often funneled down to the immediate and necessary. Thinking of the environmental impact of final arrangements is rarely a priority, but there are people out there who are trying to make it a little easier to make an eco-conscious choice when the time comes. Fernwood Cemetery is one such place, and each burial there provides an opportunity to remove invasive species and renew the landscape through the use of native plants, trees and flowers.
Fernwood itself has existed for over a century, though their natural burial offerings are fairly new. The Mill Valley, CA, establishment is a funeral home, crematory and cemetery with an underlying mission of completing a longterm land restoration project through eco-friendly burials.
In contrast to a traditional burial, which uses toxic embalming fluids, caskets lined with heavy metals and harmful finishes, and invasive excavation of the land, a natural burial uses a biodegradable casket without embalming fluids or a concrete vault. Native trees and plants are grown above the burial site, and Fernwood uses GPS to digitally keep track of gravesites. They also offer a digital “Lifestories” biography as a means of preserving memories of the deceased.