Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Prostate Health and Pressure-Free Living

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Prostate health has been in the news recently as the American Urology Association announced that it no longer recommends routine annual prostate screening for men ages 40-54 or over the age of 70. They also extended the recommended interval for men 55 to 69 to every two years. Frequent screening had resulted in misdiagnoses and unnecessary treatments.

Stopping the release of stress hormones is a key strategy for prostate health. When a male experiences emotions that cause him to trigger the fight-or-flight stress response, stress hormones restrict blood flow to the prostate and cause changes in the tissues of the bladder and sphincter muscles. This can cause prostate enlargement and frequent urination. Thus, anxiety and worry about the prostate contributes to prostate problems. And now, for some, deciding whether or not to be screened is causing anxiety.

A stress management program that reduces anxiety and prevents hormone release can be very helpful for the prostate gland and for overall health. Since it takes the male body up to nine hours to clear these hormones out of the cells, most men are never free of their negative effects.

Elle Ingalls is creator of the Pressure-Free Performance Method: an on-the-go stress-management method you can use anytime, anywhere to prevent the release of stress hormones. Elle has taught this method to hundreds of male students, athletes, businessmen and professionals, resulting in fast and significant improvements in health and performance. Pressure-Free.com.

Feng Shui Contributes to Efficient Living and a Green Economy

 

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Contributing towards a green economy starts at your living and working spaces. Your space could be a small cubicle at the office, a room in your home, your apartment, house, or even your car. Feng Shui is the way to live in sync and harmony with your surrounding environment. It helps you to harness the best energies from your surroundings for a beneficial flow of energy in your space.

Feng Shui is the system to arrange a living or working space using appropriate materials for appropriate areas. It helps you to make the best use of your space, the best use of your resources, the best use of your home deco and accessories as well as reduce wasted space.

Cache Bache – Clutter and Recycling

Resource Depletion and Energy Conservation:

Eliminating clutter is a main emphasis in Feng Shui. I always advise people to get rid of clutter and to have organized and clean spaces. A room full of clutter: boxes of papers, old clothes, an exercise machine that is not used, appliances that are broken, old newspapers and magazines is stagnant energy. Stagnant energy in any part of your home may cause for serious obstacles and create problems in certain parts of your life – possibly your finances, or relationships, something job related, ruin communication with family members, cause health problems, and bring misfortunes.

Stagnant energy in a home is like a clogged artery in the heart of a human body. Using this example to illustrate, when an artery is clogged, flow of blood is not optimum and doing anything becomes difficult. In a home, when flow of energy is blocked, many difficulties could start popping up in your life, as bad energy accumulates and your potential gets limited.

Many people are overwhelmed by years of clutter at home. How do you start to eliminate clutter, and how can you use this process to reduce resource depletion and improve energy conservation?

Recycling is a wonderful method to eliminate clutter to start creating a flow of positive energy in your space. Old files, paper, magazines and newspapers may be recycled. *Recycling paper instead of making it from new material generates 74 percent less air pollution and uses 50 percent less water! (EPA, 2008)

Unused appliances, electronic items or furniture may be donated to charities for a new life. Old clothes and shoes may also be given away. Remember, something you do not use anymore may be useful to someone else. When you get rid of unused items in your space, you are making space for new and better things to enter your home, as well as new opportunities to enter your life. If you do not get rid of the old, new cannot come in!

When the flow of energy in your space is favorable, lives can feel more in order and less troublesome, allowing the ability to live in peace and harmony, be more energized, well rested, creative, productive and happy.

Environmental Pollution and Degradation:

Polluted air is unfavorable, stagnant energy, a polluted river is blockage, and mountains of trash are obstacles. If your house is surrounded by dying trees, a dirty and polluted river or clogged drains filled with trash, it is considered to be bad Feng Shui.

On the other hand, if you open your windows and have a nice, clean view of growing trees, fresh smells and clean air, it is considered to be good Feng Shui. Good Feng Shui translates to good fortune in every area of your life – prosperity, good finances, good health, good relationships, peace, harmony, stability, security and overall wellbeing

How to Participate in the Green Economy with the Use of Good Feng Shui:

There is energy in everything and everyone – everybody can do their part to make an overall positive difference. A proper Advanced Feng Shui analysis in a home can help the owner to have the most efficient and favorable layout to enable them to utilize their space efficiently and minimize wasted space. This also allows them to do their part in taking steps to contribute to a green, thriving economy.

Favorable Feng Shui positioning and arrangements in your home can improve flows of energy and can help you to choose the most optimum use of materials. Correct placement and improved flow of energy can improve the economic standing of a family or a business. Feng Shui always emphasizes the protection of relationships and protection of income with a stable and balanced space.

Aileen Soo is a Feng Shui consultant from Malaysia who lives in Puerto Rico.

 

Canadian First Nations’ Crystal Lameman to Speak at Wege Speaker Series

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The Wege Foundation (www.wegefoundation.org) will host the 20th Annual Wege Speaker Series on Thursday, April 21 at 4pm at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center.

The speaker this year is Crystal Lameman, a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, whose homeland is the site of the massive “tar sands” oil development in Alberta, Canada. Her talk is titled, The Real Costs of Oil: The Case for Justice at the Ends of the Pipeline.

The indigenous people of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation live in an area of forest the size of Switzerland and, based on their Treaty of 1876, enjoy legal rights to hunt, fish and trap in their territory, as their ancestors have done for generations.

In 2008, the Nation launched a Treaty Rights litigation against the Canadian government, claiming that the 19,000+ fossil fuel projects in their territory violate their treaty rights and threaten to destroy their way of life by polluting and fragmenting the land and water that have sustained them for centuries. Lameman, who serves as the Intergovernmental Affairs and Industry Relations Treaty Coordinator and Communications Manager for the Nation, combines her academic background and her indigenous ways of knowing to articulate the devastating impacts of the largest industrial project in the world.

“In Michigan, much attention has been paid to the safety of the oil pipeline running underneath the Straits of Mackinac and to proposals to ship tar sands-derived oil on the Great Lakes, ” said Mark Van Putten, who in November was named President and CEO of the Wege Foundation. “Less attention has been paid to the environmental and human costs of tar sands production at the locations of the mines. Lameman will seek to deepen our understanding of what is happening at the source as she speaks about her people’s fight for justice on the front lines and the climate change consequences for all of us.”

The Aquinas College Performing Arts Center is located at 1703 Robinson Road S.E. in Grand Rapids. The public is invited and the event is free. Registration is required at www.aquinas.edu/wegespeaker

About Aquinas College

Aquinas College is a Catholic liberal arts college founded in 1886 by the Dominican sisters of Grand Rapids. The wooded, 117-acre campus is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With over 1,200 students and 60 academic programs, Aquinas College is an inclusive education community that emphasizes career preparation, leadership, service to others and lifelong learning. www.aquinas.edu

About the Wege Foundation

Founded in 1967 by Peter M. Wege, son of Peter Martin Wege, who started what is now Steelcase Inc., the Wege Foundation focuses on funding good works that enhance the lives of the people and preserve the health of the environment in West Michigan. The Wege Foundation’s Five Pillars, or areas of interest: Education, Environment, Arts & Culture, Health Care, and Human Services. For more information, go to www.wegefoundation.org

 

First, Do No Harm

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Oath Naturally Applies to Vets

by Dr. Shawn Messonier

Veterinarians, like other medical doctors, take an oath to help their patients and above all, “Do no harm.” One way of harming is through the performance of unnecessary procedures, whether or not it is immediately apparent. For instance, I believe harm occurs when an owner pays for a procedure that may no be medically necessary. The procedure could have a negative impact on the pet’s health now or in the future, and the trust in the doctor-patient relationship is broken as a result.

As a holistic veterinarian, I see many new clients in my practice. Most are seeking a more natural approach to pet care, and many are unhappy with one or more things that were done to or recommended for their pets by prior vets. Their stories vary, but two doubtful procedures are particularly common.

The first procedure my new clients regularly question is over-vaccination of their pet. All of the scientific studies from leading institutions such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners confirm that vaccines are only rarely needed for most pets. Even though current vaccines effectively induce long-lasting immunity, many pets continue to routinely receive annual vaccines. They are unnecessary, potentially harmful and a needless expense.

The more vaccines injected, the greater the chances that problems will develop with a pet’s immune system, including autoimmune diseases and cancers. Instead, a simple blood antibody test, called a titer test, can tell the veterinarian if and when vaccines might be helpful. In my experience, titers tend to remain high for many years following puppy and kitten vaccinations. Most pets I see rarely receive vaccines throughout their lives (other than rabies every three years, as mandated by law), which may account for their sustained good health for as long as 15 to 20 years.

The second problematic procedure is surgery for a damaged cruciate ligament (ACL), the most common ligament problem in the knee joint. Easily injured, it can result in varying degrees of lameness. While pain often occurs upon injury, by the time the pet visits a vet, the pain is often gone.

Surgery is typically required to repair a complete tear of all the ligament’s fibers in order to provide long-lasting stability to the joint. However, in most cases, the pets experience tearing of only a few of these fibers, which means surgery may not be needed at all, and they can recover over time using natural therapies such as cold laser treatments and targeted homeopathics or herbal applications.

Too many veterinarians are too quick to recommend surgery. Recently I examined a limping dog, still able to use its right rear leg 10 days after partially tearing a cruciate ligament. The pet’s original vet had recommended immediate surgery, or else, “The dog will never be able to walk again.” Unsatisfied with this diagnosis, the owner kept researching until he found our hospital and agreed with my explanation that not only was surgery not needed, but would constitute, in my opinion, malpractice for an injury that would likely heal with proper natural therapies. If surgery is ultimately needed for this dog, it can be done at a later date with no ill effects.

The rule of thumb for avoiding needless procedures and treatments is to always get a second opinion. Most ailing pets are not in danger of immediate death, and it’s rare that surgery must be performed right away. Politely questioning any diagnosis or treatment recommendation that feels wrong or like too much, and also asking for a referral to a holistic veterinarian (or seeking an independent source) will help people make the best care decisions for their pets.

Shawn Messonier, a doctor of veterinary medicine practices in Plano, TX, is the award-winning author of The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets. Visit PetCareNaturally.com

Trendy Transit

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More Americans Hop on Buses and Trains

More people today are embracing the many benefits of commuting by public transit. Beyond the good feelings of reducing their carbon footprint and avoiding the stress of traffic, they are meeting and conversing with fellow passengers, reading, working via mobile devices or simply relaxing.

Total U.S. mass transit trips topped 2.7 billion in the third quarter of 2014, a 1.8 percent rise from the same period in 2013, according to the American Public Transportation Association. This represents “a dramatic change in public opinion as more people are demanding public transportation services,” according to President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.

Many communities are responding by improving the operations and scope of their mass transit systems. Oklahoma City’s bus and metro system was acquired by Embark (EmbarkOK.com) in 2013. In April 2014, it launched the first phase of changes, including increased frequency of bus routes to reduce both passenger waiting and travel times. Since then, ridership has increased 8 percent. Beginning last January, two crosstown bus routes began operating until midnight.

For Andre Small, late-night service means he can ride to and from his home and the restaurant where he works. “I would take the afternoon bus to work, but then have to walk four miles home when my shift ended at 11 p.m.,” says Small. “Carrying my tips in cash late at night didn’t feel safe. Bus service until midnight is a lifesaver.”

Bus ridership in Indianapolis reached a 23-year peak last year, totaling nearly 10.3 million passenger trips, and a new downtown transportation center is expected to open this year. IndyGo, the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo.net), plans to offer the nation’s largest electric bus fleet, rolling out the first vehicles by fall, with a fleet of 21 by year’s end.

Capitol Metro launched two special MetroRapid bus routes in Austin, Texas, in 2014, and new bus and rail transportation centers opened last year in Denver and Anaheim, California. New streetcar projects are underway in Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, Tucson and Washington, D.C.

New Cancer Test for Dogs

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Detects Illness in Time for Effective Treatment

by Shawn Messonnier

Pet owners often ask if there’s an accurate, inexpensive way to test dogs for cancer before they develop clinical sign of it. A diagnosis early in the course of the disease is crucial for beginning effective treatment and better outcomes. Until recently, the answer to their question was no.

As a result, most owners have remained unaware of the problem until the cancer was well advanced and had spread throughout the pet’s body. While chemotherapy can help some pets, the treatment is unable to heal most of them due to the advanced stage of most diagnosed cancers, which typically already have been active for six to 12 months or longer.

Early diagnosis would allow both traditional and natural therapies to be more effective. In some cases, chemotherapy might not even be needed, because natural medicines such as astragalus, essential fatty acids, mushroom extracts, ginseng and green tea may be able to reverse the cancer at its earliest stages.

Fortunately, dog owners can now secure an accurate early diagnosis using a new blood panel costing less than $200, including lab processing, that enables veterinarians to detect cancer and other inflammatory diseases before a pet becomes ill. The tests provide valuable information about the dog’s health before overt signs of disease are observed, damage occurs and treatment options become more limited and expensive. Early detection tests for cancer in cats will be available soon.

The tests measure several aspects of cell irregularity, including abnormal cell division and systemic inflammatory activity, by detecting any increased levels of thymidine kinase and C-reactive protein in the pet’s body.

A study by California’s Veterinary Diagnostics Institute’s VDI Laboratory applying the new blood panel tests to 360 dogs followed their incidences of cancer and other serious diseases for up to a year. The researchers found that nearly all of the cancers that occurred were detected four to six months prior to the pet showing outward signs. Because the cancers were detected early and treated before the pet became overtly ill, costs to the pet owner were greatly reduced and the effectiveness of cancer treatment improved.

The new cancer screening tests, which are designed to be part of a routine wellness plan, constitute the most comprehensive single blood diagnosis available in monitoring overall canine health.

It’s just as important to check the vitamin D status of canine patients. Low levels contribute to increased incidence of cancer and infectious diseases, according to a study published in the journal Veterinary and Comparative Oncology. Supplementing vitamin D levels is easy and inexpensive and may help reduce the incidence of serious disease later in life.

While the new blood panel tests have been shown to be highly accurate in early cancer detection, any test can miss it if the number of cancer cells is too small. Therefore, pets with negative test results should be retested every six months, while positive results prompt further diagnostic tests and initial treatment. Pets with cancer also benefit from these tests because they allow the vet to fine-tune a treatment plan and determine when a cancer may be coming out of remission.

The screening is recommended for all dogs 5 years of age and older. Only a small amount of blood is needed and results are available within a few weeks.

Shawn Messonnier, a doctor of veterinary medicine practicing in Plano, TX, is the award-winning author or The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets. For more information, visit PetCareNaturally.com

Cooking with Ancient Grains

Have you read this month’s Conscious Eating article? Click here to check it out! 

And here’s just one more recipe to cook with ancient grains!

Black Rice

Cardamom-Infused Black Rice Porridge with Blueberries and Pistachios

Yields: 4-6 servings

Black Rice

  • 3/4 cup black rice
  • 2 whole green cardamom pods
  • 1.5 cups boiling purified water

Porridge

  • 1 cup half-and-half, plus more as needed
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup, or more as needed
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 4 to 6 Tbsp pomegranate seeds, for garnish
  • 3 Tbsp lightly toasted chopped plain pistachios, for garnish

Start the rice the night before: Add the rice and cardamom pods to a large, heavy saucepan. Pour over the boiling water, cover and let sit at room temperature or overnight (or chill, covered, for up to 2 days).

The next morning, make the porridge: Add 1 cup of half-and-half, the maple syrup and ground cardamom to the saucepan with the rice, cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Uncover, decrease the heat to retain a lively simmer, and cook, stirring once occasionally, until the rice is tender with a slight chew, 5-7 minutes.

Remove the cardamom pods, if preferred. Add the blueberries and simmer gently until they are warmed through, 1-2 minutes more.

To finish, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more half-and-half to reach a desired consistency. Taste for sweetness and adjust with more maple syrup if needed.

Divide between 4-6 breakfast bowls. Top each bowl with 1 Tbsp of pomegranate seeds and 1 tsp of chopped pistachios. Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Simply Ancient Grains or Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, by Maria Speck, courtesy of Ten Speed Press. 

DIY Testing

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The following is an extension of our January issue’s feature article. To read the feature article, click here

While most practitioners recommend that patients consult with a physician to interpret their test results, several companies offer gene, blood and microbiome lab testing directly to consumers. Here are a few options to consider:

  • uBiome, Inc. (Ubiome.com): Send in swab samples from gut, mouth, nose, genitals and/or skin and the company will genetically sequence the DNA of resident bacteria and send findings back within six weeks, identifying good and bad varieties present, deficiencies, and how that personal microbiome compares to others with similar lifestyles, such as smokers, vegans, meat-eaters, etc. It’s also possible to test a client’s microbiome over time to see if dietary changes implemented to change gut health are working.
  • WellnessFX (WellnessFX.com): Visit an affiliated diagnostic lab to submit blood samples with results posted within a week on a secure website. Different packages targeting weight loss, sports performance, heart health or women’s health issues look at different biomarkers in the blood, such as levels of certain micro-nutrients, hormones or signs of inflammation. Clients can request an online consultation with a doctor or dietitian to interpret the results.
  • Pathway Genomics (Pathway.com): The company’s DNA Insight Genetic Health and Wellness Tests use genetic material taken from saliva to analyze genetic markers. Ordered via a licensed practitioner, online or through a smartphone app, clients receive a kit, send in a sample and get results within three weeks. The Pathway Fit tests snapshot 75 genetic markers related to metabolism and sports performance. Others look for genes that influence nutrient absorption, heart health or hormonal function.

Parroting a Wild Diet

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Fresh Forage Feeds Birds Well

by Sandy Lender

Wild parrots expend time and energy seeking available foods according to nature’s cycle. Parrots in captivity need owners to mimic this routine for their pets.

Menu Lessons
Ann Brooks, founder of Phoenix Landing, in Asheville, North Carolina, remarks about the deficiencies of conventional packaged birdseed diets. “Most lack essential ingredients like vitamin A, calcium
and protein, and are also high in fat,” she says.

As an alternative, in recent decades manufacturers have turned to formulated pellet diets. As with any pet food, bird owners are advised to check labels for the nutrients that are best for their type of parrot and take care to avoid genetically modified ingredients.

Fresh foods, always the more nutritious alternative, require more time and some ingenuity. Avian Veterinary Technician Shari Mirojnick, with the Backos Bird Clinic, in Deerfield Beach, Florida, explains that North Americans, even in the subtropics, don’t have access to all the foods that parrots eat in the wild.

“We have to make up for what they’re missing,” advises Mirojnick. “Parrots that live in dense rain forest will often dine on certain tree fruits, which differ from supermarket fruits. Plus, human cultivation has sacrificed much of the nutrient content found in the original fruit in exchange for sweetness.” We need to reconcile the loss in other ways, such as with vegetables.

Mirojnick notes, “Many of the best vegetables for parrots are high in key essential nutrients like vitamin A and calcium, which these birds do not efficiently metabolize in captivity.” She recommends nutrient-dense dark leafy greens, carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli. But avoid avocado, which is poisonous to birds, and nightshade produce such as eggplant and mushrooms. When in doubt about a food, check it out through a reputable source such as PhoenixLanding.org/parrotcare.html or an avian veterinarian.

Blueberries, cranberries and goji contain helpful antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins C and K, and fiber, and have a low sugar content compared with their nutritional value. Other fruits like papaya and cantaloupe are high in vitamin A.

Providing good fresh food isn’t necessarily time-consuming nor difficult. Parrot Nation proprietor Patricia Sund, of Hollywood, Florida, leads the “chop” revolution, teaching this efficient approach for delivering vegetables, leafy greens, grains and healthy seeds to pet birds—whose care is generally time-intensive throughout their long lifespans—to bird clubs and rescue groups around the country.

By gathering ingredients and preparing a large batch, an owner can freeze multiple healthy servings in containers to thaw and feed to parrots over an extended period. Recipes vary, based on the fresh produce available according to growing seasons, regional crops and individual bird tastes.

Food as Enrichment
Because 50 to 70 percent of a wild parrot’s time is spent foraging, according to Brooks, companion parrots need that kind of activity for mental and physical stimulation. “Foraging keeps them busy, is fun and gives them a job,” remarks Lisa Bono, a certified avian trainer and educator and owner of The Platinum Parrot, in Barnegat, New Jersey. Besides finding food, foraging also keeps a bird’s beak in shape and its mind occupied in finding things to play with, she says. “A busy beak means a busy mind, and less time to develop undesirable behaviors like screaming or feather-destructive habits.”

Bono says the popular African grey parrot likes playing with durable and versatile beak and claw toys, plus shredding and tearing bird-safe materials like untanned leather, small plain cardboard boxes, and uncolored and unwaxed paper cups—simple items that can double as destructible “dishes” for parrot foods.

Robin Shewokis, of The Leather Elves, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and a board member of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, adds, “Any toy can be turned into a foraging device by merely placing some food in or on it; with fresh foods, be careful to avoid spoilage. Be creative: Switch the placement of food and water bowls for a simple parrot puzzle. Put a paper towel over the food dish on another day. Have fun with it. You can put a lot of love and thought into a food’s presentation.”

Sandy Lender is the publisher of In Your Flock, a companion parrot magazine. She lives in Southwest Florida with seven parrots that she feeds varieties of homemade chop. Reach her at Publisher@InYourFlock.com.

Rest in Peace

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Sustainable Burials Honor Life

by Brita Belli

Humans are conditioned to the conventional rituals of handling death—the embalmed body in a casket or ashes sealed in an urn, a procession of vehicles to the burial site, solemnly gathering and scattering flowers as the remains are lowered into the earth. Many times, planning details are abdicated to the judgment of funeral directors.

The notion of green burials envisions something different: a ceremony that engages family members’ ecovalues and nature in a more intimate, sustainable process favoring biodegradable caskets and no toxic chemicals. The movement is gaining in popularity; in 2011, some 300 U.S. funeral homes offered green burial options, up from only 12 in 2008.

High Impact of Tradition
Traditional American burial practices make a sizeable environmental footprint and also pose health risks. The carcinogenic embalming fluid—formaldehyde—is a well-known hazard. A 2009 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that exposure to formaldehyde over a career of embalming put funeral home workers at significantly increased risk for mortality from myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells. Alternatives include formaldehyde-free preservatives made from essential oils, and dry ice.

Significant resources are consumed in manufacturing caskets and vaults and maintaining cemetery grass. “A few years back I calculated that we bury enough metal in caskets to rebuild the Golden Gate Bridge each year and put so much concrete in the ground via burial vaults we could build a two-lane highway halfway across the country,” says Joe Sehee, founder of the Green Burial Council.

The council certifies and lists cemeteries, funeral homes and casket companies that forgo chemicals and offer natural landscapes. The goal is for burials to leave as little impact as possible on the planet.

Greener Plots
Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve, in Newfield, New York, does not look like a cemetery. Its native grasses and mature trees come alive with color each autumn. Wildflowers bloom in the spring and birds build their nests in treetop boughs.

“Most contemporary cemeteries are biological deserts,” observes Greensprings spokesperson and science writer Mary Woodsen. In contrast, Greensprings’ 100 acres are surrounded by 8,000 acres of protected forests. Loved ones may be buried in coffins from locally produced timber, or in shrouds—either professionally made or from a favorite blanket or quilt. Biodegradable caskets may be constructed of pine, cardboard, bamboo, formaldehyde-free plywood or hand-woven willow or wicker. LastThings.net even offers free plans to make a simple coffin.

Instead of a machine, family members and friends ceremonially take hold of straps and lower the casket into a concrete vault themselves. Natural, flat fieldstones honor loved ones.

“People feel, ‘I was part of this,’” says Woodsen.

Cremation Options
Debate exists over the ecological impact of cremation—a practice expected to be chosen as the end-of-life choice for as many as 46 percent of Americans by 2015. While it reduces the use of large, resource-intensive burial plots, each traditionally cremated body releases 110 pounds of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, including carbon dioxide and monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury and other metals.

The Bio Cremation greener alternative—using 95 percent water and 5 percent of an alkali instead of flames and fossil fuels—requires eight times less energy as fire-based cremation, produces no dangerous byproducts and still yields ashes from the remaining bones. To find the states that have approved the process, visit the legislative section at BioCremationInfo.com.

Biodegradable urns are also available, including cornstarch bags accented with leaves and petals, sculpted natural salt containers and baskets made of virgin palm. Sandcastle urns are suited for home display or ocean burial (InTheLightUrns.com). Memorial blown-glass artwork is another option for remains (TropicalGlassDesign.com).

Scattering ashes—whether casting them into the air or over a body of water, burying them or raking them into the soil—provides an intimate burial experience and has minimal environmental consequences. Sehee says it’s legal on private land and also allowed in some parks. “It rarely does harm to the ecosystem,” he says. “Calling your local park agency is a great idea. Many allow for scattering and some without a fee.”

Burial at Sea
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency governs the disposal of cremated remains at sea—it must take place at least three nautical miles from land and may include artful flowers and wreaths of decomposable materials. Even non-cremated remains may be buried at sea, provided it takes place at the same distance from land in water that is between 600 and 1,800 feet deep, depending on the location.

Another sea burial option is offered by Eternal Reefs, a company that mixes remains into liquid concrete as the centerpiece of a personalized reef ball, lowered to the ocean floor to provide a home for marine life. Before the boat heads out, family members are invited to press handprints into the wet concrete and to decorate the ball with shells and other mementos.

Reef balls can hold from one to four people, plus a pet. Sites are currently available off the Florida, New Jersey and Texas shorelines and can be revisited at any time.

“We don’t look at it as a funeral,” remarks CEO George Frankel. “We’re months or years removed from the passing. This is a celebration of life.”

Brita Belli is the editor of E-The Environmental Magazine and author of
The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates. Connect at BritaBelli.com.