Elizabeth Fournier

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since Jun 18, 2019
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Elizabeth Fournier owns and operates Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon, where she is affectionately known as “The Green Reaper” for her green burial advocacy. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Green Burial Council, the environmental certification organization setting the standard for green burial in North America. She is also the author of The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial. She is a TEDx speaker and teaches workshops throughout the Portland, Oregon area. People Magazine writes, “Elizabeth Fournier is doing her part to change the way Americans bury their dead.”
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Recent posts by Elizabeth Fournier

History was made last week at Herland Forest in Wahkiacus, Washington. The nation's first Natural Organic Reduction (commonly talked about as human composting) took place in the early morning. The forest was silent as we laid the loved one into a wooden cradle lined with delicious smelling wood chips from the very forest of the peaceful ceremony. After more earth was added and the lid was placed, we were able to gently rock the one ton cradle by hand, a true hand-craft method of disposition. The internal temperature will be monitored over time for more gentle rocking. Solar energy will aid this natural process and in time this design will allow the decedent's compost to aid tree growth in Herland Forest or on family property.

The First Natural Organic Reduction

3 weeks ago
Your book looks delicious! And very worthwhile. It's what the world needs right this moment.

Poke around this site and you will find lots of like-minded individuals, as well as an amazing wealth of information.
I love the photos and story of Izzie. Just precious!
7 months ago
I cut them into small strips andstrategically place them on top of the bushes outside the funeral home. I love seeing birds fly off with the pieces to add to their nests.
11 months ago

D. Nelson wrote:Instead of feeding folks from the garden, you'd be feeding folks to the garden in the great cycle of life. Better than eating Soylent Green.....Soylent Green is People, for all you young'uns out there

Exactly! I truly feel the last heroic act of environmental responsibility we can take is to literally give ourselves to the planet by going out green.
1 year ago
Welcome, Joe!

I am quite interested in your book as I have joined the composting world a few years back and am loving what I am learning. I am a green mortician who buries people naturally and feel quite akin to what you are doing, albeit a different source.

I am very curious of your opinion of Human Composting, the process of the body covered in natural materials, like straw or wood chips, and over the course of about three to seven weeks, thanks to microbial activity, it will break down into soil. Is this on your radar at all?

Thank you,
Elizabeth Fournier
1 year ago
Tyler!!  A huge congratulations. This is such a big and boldly positive move. May all the learning along the way come very easy.
1 year ago
Congratulations to the 4 winners of my book. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any further questions, and please spread your gained knowledge of green burial -- you'll be glad you did.

A big thank you to Permies for allowing me to be a part of your fantastic forums!

1 year ago
Great forum. I am enjoying all these inquisitive minds. For those of you who are craving some basics, there are lots of ways to make a burial more environmentally friendly, but a few components are the most important for creating a true green burial.

Don’t Use a Decorative Casket

The typical casket used today is not made to be biodegradable; it’s made for preservation. Modern burial boxes are manufactured from reinforced steel or shellacked hardwoods, then embellished with metals, handles, and ornamentation. All that metal, lacquer, and toxic glue is certainly no good for the environment. If you decide you want a casket, opt for a basic wooden casket, like a plain pine box, or one made from other natural materials: bamboo, sea grass, banana leaves, and even willow branches. Earth-friendly caskets are fully biodegradable. They will break down to nothing, and they shouldn’t have any traces of metal, toxic glue, plastic, or varnish.

However, you don’t need to use a casket at all. A deceased person can easily be wrapped in a favorite non-bleached or dyed cloth, blanket, or tapestry, and several types of commercially made burial shrouds and wraps are now sold.

Don’t Use a Burial Vault or Grave Liner

A burial vault — also referred to as a grave box, casket liner, or outer burial container — is a container made from concrete or polypropylene, and it is used to surround the casket for maximum preservation and to prevent the grave from collapsing over time. Green cemeteries prohibit them entirely, and traditional cemeteries are beginning to forgo their obligatory inclusion. A green burial should be designed to allow the body to naturally return to the earth at the fastest rate possible. By not using a vault, the process happens much more quickly.

Decline Embalming

Embalming fluid contains formaldehyde, a likely carcinogen that is hazardous to the environment as well as to the embalmer. Forgoing standard embalming doesn’t necessarily mean that a funeral must happen more quickly: Alternatives do exist for preserving a body for a moderate period, such as “green embalming” techniques as well as good old-fashioned refrigeration and dry ice. If you are using a funeral home, they will be able to assist with standard refrigeration, but if you are handling the body yourself, you might need some instruction. However, don’t let the idea of an unpreserved body gross you out. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes it clear that the average dead body is neither dangerous nor contagious. Our society has developed a number of myths and misconceptions about dead bodies that I hope my book will help dispel.

Use a Green Burial Site

Ideally, to ensure an eco-friendly burial, choose a fully natural burial ground whose sole purpose is eco-conservation. Another great choice is a hybrid or low-impact green cemetery, a burial area that has adopted environmental practices but also allows for traditional graves. Or, if the law allows and the land is available, consider a backyard burial. See chapter 6 for more on this. A backyard burial takes some extra planning, and some extra work, but it may be the greenest way to say goodbye.
1 year ago
Hi Beth! I suggest checking my book out from the library because some of that info will be there. All states have their own rules, so you will need to check with your county zoning and planning for the rest.

I love the Farley Center!

1 year ago