Respect for the Dead, Respect for the Environment
Facing a lack of funding during tough economic times, one non-profit nature center in Ohio has found an innovative approach to funding their mission – in the cemetery.
The Wilderness Center opened Foxfield Preserve Nature Preserve Cemetery in 2008. With a goal of embracing the bodies returned to the earth and decreasing the amount of natural resources used, Foxfield requires the use of a biodegradable casket or burial shroud. Embalming chemicals and concrete vaults are also prohibited. The land is being preserved as native forest and prairie for the public to enjoy via walking paths, and the proceeds of sales go to benefit The Wilderness Center’s education and conservation programs.
“We’ve entered a new phase as an institution. To continue our mission, we are venturing into social entrepreneurialism,” explains Wilderness Center Executive Director, and the driving force behind this new initiative, Gordon Maupin.
While the idea of creating a cemetery to conserve land and fund nature education is an innovative one, Maupin insists there is nothing innovative about natural burial.
“This is certainly not a new idea. We’re really just embracing traditions that were quite common until the Civil War,” says Maupin. “This is the way humans have always buried their dead.”
While natural burial may not be a new idea, Maupin admits that Foxfield has dealt with many public misconceptions and myths. He shares that it can be difficult setting the record straight on a subject which can be so emotional.
“I frequently encounter people who ask if what we’re doing is even legal!” Maupin says with a chuckle. “Many people believe that funeral home practices and cemetery rules are a requirement. When we first meet with them, some don’t even know they have a choice. But we are slowly educating people and changing perceptions.”
According to Maupin, there are lots of myths circulating about natural burial. One initial fear that he heard was that disease would spread if a body wasn’t embalmed. This fear has been disproven, according to Maupin, with some simple biology. Once a host organism dies, any parasite living on it will also perish. Any lingering fear of disease spreading in underground water is also unfounded, as the microbes living in the soil can break down anything to its harmless, basic elements.
Another big myth is that animals will disturb the gravesites in nature preserve cemeteries. “No way,” says Maupin. “Animals aren’t going to disturb something buried that deep.”
While the idea may take some by surprise, many families have found this simple approach to funeral arrangements to be incredibly meaningful.
Ken Buzzelli of Brecksville, Ohio, interred his late wife at Foxfield. He considers himself an advocate for natural burial and for the Preserve. “Foxfield is peaceful, an oasis that encourages tranquil thoughts and fond memories. Every time I visit, I thank Laura for bringing me to such a wonderful place – I feel it is a gift from her each time I visit. And what a legacy to leave your loved ones!”
About Foxfield Preserve:
Foxfield Preserve is a nature preserve cemetery operated by The Wilderness Center. It is the first “green cemetery” operated by a non-profit conservation organization in the U.S. and the first of its kind in Ohio. The organization provides an economical, environmentally friendly alternative to modern burial as fewer resources are used in natural burial.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly