Edmonton cemetery is the first in the city to offer green burials

Edmonton cemetery is the first in the city to offer green burials

Charles Schweger is dead set against a traditional burial, with its embalming fluid, varnished caskets with metal hardware and concrete grave liners.

“I have always felt that my presence on the earth has done enough abuse to the earth and to the different forms of life on the earth,” says the 77-year-old retired University of Alberta anthropology professor.

“Why would we want to have ourselves pickled and stuck in the ground?”

 
Now Schweger is looking into the city’s first green burial service that started Aug. 1 at Rosehill Cemetery in southwest Edmonton, where they are selling about 750 plots in a one-acre site next to its traditional, sod-covered burial ground.

The cemetery, owned by the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton and open to public, has 68 acres of land, but the original cemetery covers just 28.

Rosehill manager Marc Turgeon says they decided to incorporate green burials when they developed a master plan for the site in 2013. A former funeral director, he was aware of green burials, which skip the formaldehyde-based embalming fluid and bury bodies in biodegradable shrouds or caskets made of cardboard, untreated wood or bamboo.

“Green burials have been kind of on everybody’s radar probably for the last 15 years. We have been hearing a lot about it,” Turgeon says, adding that one or two families ask about it every year.

 
When he put an ad in the paper about the green burial service, he got about two dozen calls.

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