Living More-with-Less

Celebrations & Life Passages

Bury green.

Many funeral products and services are geared toward preservation of the deceased. A green burial is about giving our bodies back to the earth as it says in the Bible: "And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it" (Eccles. 12:7).

A green burial is a burial that has no ecological footprint. This means forgoing the use of embalming fluids, a burial vault, a permanent marker or monument as well as the use of a 100 percent biodegradable casket. Eco-friendly embalming fluids exist, but they are not widely available or promoted. Many cemeteries require a vault for the simple reason of easy lawn care. An alternative would be for the cemetery to fill in the dirt and re-seed as needed.

There are certified burial grounds, which resemble nature preserves rather then carefully manicured properties. Interestingly, the United States is one of few countries in the world where embalming and the use of vaults is a standard practice and many people have the misconception that these are required by law. Many European countries do not allow embalming and do not use a vault.

Jan Oostland, Goshen, Ind.

Mother's Day.

I asked for and received a rain barrel for Mother's Day because I preferred to have a gift that would be useful long-term. I wanted to collect rainwater for my flower gardens and house plants rather than use tap water. I also asked for a composting bin.

Susan Gingerich, Perkasie, Pa.

Pumpkin fairy.

One of my students had a wonderful Halloween tradition. After collecting candy in the neighborhood, the family would choose several favorites to keep. The remainder of the candies would be left in a bag on the front porch for the "pumpkin fairy." In the middle of the night, this fairy would take the candy and in its place leave a book or a game for the family to enjoy. This is a tradition that we have started in our household, and it is fun to see what the fairy brings each year!

Rebecca Seiling, Waterloo, Ont.

For more information

Alternative Gift Registry: The Center for a New American Dream has set up an alternative gift registry for celebrations like weddings and baby showers, in which gift-givers can see a list of alternative gifts desired by the recipient (including intangibles such as babysitting help or meals).

Simplify the Holidays: A booklet about simple celebrations from the Center for a New American Dream.

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