How the Natural Burial Company is Putting Old Ideas About Death to Rest

What will the tradition around burials in your family be, what have they been? Have you discussed what your end of life wishes are with your family? Not always the most comfortable topic, but after watching the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life at his Memorial, it got me thinking…

Founded in 2004 by Cynthia Beal, the Natural Burial Company sells biodegradable and eco-friendly coffins, caskets, and ash burial urns. Constructed mostly from wicker, wood, and recycled newspaper, the coffins are designed to break down quickly in the earth, returning the elements of the body back into the surrounding soil system and the plants and trees that rise above. Supplying natural coffins was relatively easy, but providing natural graves for her customers was a lot more complicated.

The newly emerging natural burial movement needed more information about sustainable burial practices to get cemeteries on board for this kind of management practice. Cynthia partnered with the soil sciences department at Oregon State University to build the curriculum for a first-of-its kind online course focused on sustainable cemetery management.