The environmental impact of modern day burials we should know


What do we need to know about the environmental impact of modern-day burials, and what are "green burials" all about? Given that our burial methods used to be eco-friendly, how did we come to accept an environmentally harmful and financially costly way of running our funeral services as the norm? This is just the tip of the ice-berg of what you'll hear in this episode. 

Elizabeth Fournier is affectionately known as the "Green Reaper." She's the owner and operator of Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon, on the advisory board for the Green Burial Council, and the author of The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial. Let's dive in.

This is a conversation on Green Dreamer Podcast with Kaméa Chayne, a show exploring environmental and intersectional sustainability from ideas to life. Subscribe to Green Dreamer on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app and let’s learn what it takes to thrive in every sense of the word!


[2:30] What first inspired Elizabeth's passion for the environment. 

[3:16] How Elizabeth came to become a "green mortician." 

[4:55] Kaméa: "What gave you the courage to do things differently?" 

[8:16] Elizabeth explains what's involved in a traditional burial process versus a "green" burial process. 

[11:24] Kaméa: "How did we as a society come to accept an environmentally harmful and economically costly way of doing burials?" 

[14:11] Elizabeth: "You have the right to ask questions."

[15:08] A few things Elizabeth says everyone should know about the laws and requirements around burials. 

[16:37] Kaméa: "What usually holds people back from learning about green burials, or choosing this option once they hear about it?"

[18:02] Elizabeth: "Even if your specific circumstance doesn't allow you to go fully green, you can always do something sort of green... There are so many ways we can put our thinking caps on, and try to go one step further to better the planet.

[20:35] Kaméa: "What's been your biggest struggle building your business by yourself?" 

[21:43] What kept Elizabeth going during the moments when she felt imbalanced in life. [21:14] Elizabeth: "I'm constantly keeping my eye on the prize. And I'm constantly looking at the bigger picture.[22:50] Kaméa: "What are you most proud of having accomplished in your work?" [23:53] Elizabeth: "Death is hard and it's tricky. And when someone dies in your life, you need to figure out what your new normal is. So you need to take care of yourself and you need to take it easy on yourself.[24:46] Kaméa: "What do you think we need most to accelerate towards a thriving planet?" [24:54] Elizabeth: "Love is the answer. I can't say that enough."   

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Elizabeth Fournier


To follow: The Good News Network

Words of inspiration: "I am one, small part of the world and there's a whole world out there." 

Health tip: "Petting my goats. Also scream therapy with John Denver." 

Green tip: "I am helping a cemetery in north Portland which has now become a green burial ground." 

Element of hope: "The younger generation really cares." 

Words of Wisdom: "Keep dreaming green, don't let anyone tell you what you're doing is worthless or silly, and love is all that matters."   

Two Takeaways