Green Burial

On NPR’s “Marketplace” this morning: “Eco-pods,” biodegradable burial caskets made of recycled paper. Made only in the UK, so not carbon-friendly if shipped to the US.

We’ve had eco-friendly Jewish burials since Mishnaic times: the plain pine box, locally crafted, designed to return the body within to the earth speedily and naturally. The Eco-pod, if locally crafted, sounds like something that would fulfill the spirit of the mandate for simple burial. There’s a concern, though, that its currently extra-high cost might make it affordable only to some. And that contravenes the other spirit of Jewish burials: affordable simplicity for all. The rabbis decreed that everyone should practice simplicity in burial practices, so that none will feel ashamed of what they can afford to do for their dear deceased. Death is not the time for ostentatious displays. Perhaps, even of how eco-friendly you are. Or were.