WILMOT, Ohio - For the longest time, cremation was the most eco-friendly option for a loved one who had passed. But now, more people are considering green burials, or natural burials.
While green burials have been around for a while, there has been a sudden spike in interest for this option in recent years.
Mac Hawkins from Wooster said he has visited the woods and gone hiking around the Foxfield Preserve for more than 40 years with his family. He likes the area so much he plans to be buried at the Foxfield Preserve in Wilmot when the time comes.
“We hiked these woods. We know the place. The kids love it, so it's all fond memories for all of us,” he said. “This is where I want to be where I'm at when I'm alive so why not be here when I'm dead."
He said he and his wife care about the environment and previously considered cremation, but changed their minds after discovering green burials. He also hopes the mourning process won't be as painful for his family.
“You're not here to look at a bunch of tombstones and stand and weep over a grave. To me, I just want them to have fun,” said Hawkins.
He said being buried in the woods would give his family the chance to remember him and enjoy a nice hike around the preserve.
Foxfield Preserve is Ohio's first certified natural preserve cemetery. The cemetery uses eco-friendly caskets made out of wood or cloth. The body is not embalmed, and there is no concrete burial vault, allowing the body to naturally decompose.
Foxfield’s manager, Sara Brink, said the green cemetery used to get only 10 clients a year, but last year that number doubled. More people than ever before are calling and inquiring about this option.
While the environmental benefits are important, Brink said she decided to personally have a green burial after seeing the emotional impact on those mourning the loss of a loved one.
“What's more beautiful and important to me is the amount of comfort that it's bringing to the families that we work with,” she said.
She said many of the loved ones of those who chose the green burial option seem to find closure and peace.
With more people interested in green burials, several of the traditional funeral homes are now offering this option. Busch Funeral Homes offers cremation and traditional burials. Busch was also one of the first in Ohio to add green burials. However, the owner said while many people ask about green options, most people come in with no plans until after someone passes.
“They're confused. It's the worst day of their life, so we really encourage people to take their time to go visit the funeral home that they're going to utilize,” said Mark Busch of Busch Funeral Homes.