New 'Green' Burial Sites Use GPS To Locate Graves

05/01/2015 03:23 pm ET | Updated May 01, 2015
Stephen Shugerman via Getty Images

And they say boomers are afraid of technology! A plan in Australia laughs in the face of that stereotype and may revolutionize how we face our maker, so to speak.

Ground was broken this week at the Bunurong Memorial Park -- a large cemetery near Dandenong, Australia -- that in a year expects to host what are known as forest or woodland burials. The deceased's body is covered in a shroud or light covering, sans a coffin, and with no headstone to mark the burial spot. Instead, after nature does what nature does, families of those buried in the red gum trees will in time be able to track the body by using a dime-size GPS tracker encased in a plastic capsule and attached to the burial shroud. As the shroud and body decompose, the tracker remains in the ground and visitors can find the burial site through an app on a mobile phone or other device, according to the Canberra Times. The cemetery did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Burials such as this are seen as an environmentally friendlier option than being embalmed with chemicals and buried in a heavy coffin. The green burial movement has picked up steam in the U.S. as well as in other countries. "We don't need to pickle people," Larry Hurst of Southwest Portland said of embalming fluid, which he described to Oregon Live as "poison in the ground." And, it's also not necessary to encase bodies in concrete vaults or use the grave liners that many cemeteries insist upon so that the ground doesn't sink over time, he said.

The green burial movement is still small but those involved in the business of death are seeing a steady uptick in interest as people who previously leaned toward cremation are hearing about returning their body to the elements, essentially composting it. The philosophical change is this: while in generations past, the aim was to protect the deceased from the elements of nature, now more people are happier for their remains to be returned to the Earth sooner.

Without question, boomers are changing death just like they changed so many other things before it. Readers, your thoughts?

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