The Natural Burial Expo 2010 is being held on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday April 25, 2010 at St. Paul's Christian Church in Raleigh, NC. Organizers report that this is the first event of its kind on the East Coast. It is being organized in response to the growing concern about the fragility of the planet and the increased awareness of the impact that daily decisions -- from birth to death -- have on the earth.
The organizers include natural burial consultant and casket provider Jane Hillhouse of Final Footprint (Half Moon Bay, CA), natural burial coordinator Carol Motley of Bury Me Naturally (Asheville), organic fabric artist Julie Mullin of Fiberactive (Raleigh, NC), and funeral director Joseph Smolenski of the Renaissance Funeral Home (Raleigh, NC).
The Expo will include workshops and displays by representatives from natural burial companies from throughout the U.S. Presentations will include information on home funerals, eco-friendly caskets and urns, organic quilted shrouds, natural burial cemetery sites, and organic caterers.
Natural burial was the standard practice in the U.S. until the Civil War, when embalming became the standard practice for preserving the bodies of fallen soldiers for the train journey from the battlefields to their homes. Hillhouse points out that home funerals and natural burial are options that allow families to care for their loved ones themselves, if they choose. They also provide ways for people to continue their commitments to the environment. According to FTC rules, embalming is rarely necessary, so natural burial practices and the use of environmentally-friendly caskets allow bodies to naturally return to the earth.
Hillhouse has been part of this movement to "green" the funeral industry since 1994 when she learned about the growing natural burial movement in her native England. Over the last sixteen years, her Final Footprint team has been providing consultation and resources for home funerals and natural burial, including environmentally-friendly caskets and urns. Hillhouse has also offered continuing education seminars on natural burial for members of the funeral industry, hospice associations, faith communities and clergy throughout the U.S. In addition, she is working with land trusts, existing cemeteries, and individuals to secure natural burial grounds in the U.S.
Final Footprint is the U.S. distributor for eco-friendly caskets and coffins by Ecoffins, a Fair Trade certified company. Hillhouse chose to work with Ecoffins because both companies have a joint commitment to value their employees and the physical environments in which they work, and to do everything they can to ensure that they improve rather than damage the environment. For this reason, the manufacturing is done in an environmentally friendly way using sustainable materials. All of the caskets and coffins are individually hand-woven using age-old skills, by craftspeople who are paid a fair wage and work in a just, Fair Trade certified workplace.
What: Natural Burial Expo 2010
Where: St. Paul's Christian Church, 3331 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh, NC 27612
When: Saturday, April 24, 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and Sunday, April 25, 1:00 to 4:00 pm