May 31, 2023 Breakfast Meeting Notes

Mat 31, 2023 Breakfast Meeting Notes


We welcomed Tony back after his trip to Washington state. He rewarded us with NH Trivia, NH Lottery Edition. 


Ken Evans won the 50/50.

Ken Evans also won the chance to draw in the card game but drew the 3 of clubs. The game goes on.


Guests: Doug Ouelette, past president our club, and his wife Barb


Sharon: Awards night was last nigh at Plymouth Regional High School. It was a great night, well attended, and Sharon was pleased to see that over 30 scholarships were awarded.


Braden noted that we are not alone in being locked out of our Facebook account. Apparently many Rotary clubs and even districts have had their Facebook pages blocked. The issue seems to be one involving copyright of the Rotary logo. Rotary International has provided us with a form letter to be sent to Facebook noting that we are authorized to use the logo; We hope that Facebook will restore our page once they have this letter.


Nancy introduced today’s speaker. Lee Webster is an advocate and educator for green cremations. She spoke to us about end of life options for our physical remains. 


The program with which Lee works is Going out Green. Why should we do this? There is a huge environmental cost to traditional burial. Each year in this country, vault burials require 1.6 million tons of concrete, 17,000 tons of copper and bronze, 84,000 tons of steel, plus lots of embalming fluid, pesticides to maintain the cemetery, and other toxic items. Industrial cremation (which includes traditional cremation and liquid cremation) are NOT more natural; they involve carbon emissions as well as environmental disposal dangers like algae bloom and girding of trees. Furthermore, it is expensive (average cost of cremation in NH is $2500).


Natural burial is an environmentally friendly alternative. This process involves burying  3 1/2 to 4 feet deep. There is no vault and it uses biodegradable containers. The bodies are not embalmed. People raise concerns that graves will sink (they don’t); that animals will dig them up (animals don’t smell that deep); pharmaceuticals and pathogens may be released (soil filters these out), metals can also be left behind (yes but these do stay in the ground). Winter burial is also not a big problem; 3/4 of morticians in state will bury in the winter but decision is made at the cemetery level.


There are three types of cemetaries: Hybrid (in our own local communities); natural; and conservation (natural  burial in an area with easements to protect area forever). The Conservation Land Trust is working with green burials to protect intrinsically valuable land and allow for multiple uses. For example, green cemeteries are popular places for cycling trails, hiking, and birdwatching, as well as weddings, christenings, and even more unconventional activities like goat yoga or solstice ceremonies. Green burials also help to address funeral poverty by charging differently. For example, if a green burial site is also a conserved area, people may be motivated to donate to its upkeep because they have family buried there. This is a sustainable project and contributes to climate resiliency. 


People can also choose to be buried at home. It is legal in almost all of the country. No funeral director is needed in NH. Only family members can be buried on your own property; . The town clerk issues permits (public right of way) after receiving death certificate. Persons wishing to have a burial done on their property must comply with local zoning and record the burial with the town within 6 days of burial. Studies have shown that having a family cemetery on a property does not affect property values.


The funeral ceremony allows family members a more natural experience. There is generally a procession, with people carrying the body in; there may be music or poetry as an accompaniment. Most green burial facilities have transport to bring people with mobility issues to the grave site. 


The grave site is dug 3 1/2 feet deep and the bottom is lined with greens (biomass) to create an oxygen exchange barrier to aid in decomposition. The body box is lowered into the grave with straps. Graveside services are up to the family. Lee noted that this type of funeral is popular with veterans, who want to be buried in the state that they served. NH military funerals don’t go green but Maine’s do. Another layer of biomass cover the body (blanketing). Then soil is shoveled over the grave and it is mounded up high to account for settling. Those in attendance do at least some of the shoveling of soil and this can be therapeutic.  Finally the person is memorialized with native stones. GIS units keep permanent track of where the bodies are buried. Some people create art installations or meditative spaces above a loved one’s grave. 


Green burials rely on shrouds, biodegradable caskets, often made from found objects. The Funerary Artisans Collective sells environmentally conscious, handcrafted funeral goods. 


Cost comparisons: $4638 is average cost at a funeral home for standard burial. A graveside funeral  that does not involve a funeral home is $4513, $2417 is cost of direct cremation in NH; $2649 is average natural burial in the US. (The green cremation can cost a little more because of including a donation for land conservation)


Who wants it? Per a survey in 2021, 91% of people would prefer a more environmentally friendly funeral and if given a choice, 84% would choose a green burial. Right now we have 16 cemeteries in NH that will do natural burials. Note that a vault is NOT required in NH. West Lebanon is the only town that will accept nonresidents for burial. 


NH Conservation Burial Projects: 16 acres in Thornton abutting the White Mountains National Forest is going to be purchased for a green cemetery. The plan is to do biking and hiking trails. They will need to form a nonprofit corporation with board of directors, and organized fundraising. Pre-need burial donations are being accepted. Go to NH Funeral Resources and Education, Green Burial tabs to learn more.


Steve: Tomorrow night is the ball game to benefit Common Man for Ukraine. We will be selling 50/50 tickets. In addition, Alex has purchased 1000 ball caps. If people bring a receipt from a Common Man restaurant, they will get a free hat. Otherwise hats will be sold for $10 each, after the big rush at the beginning. Volunteers will need to get there by 4:45 if at all possible. Buy your tickets in advance online or at the gate in section 106. Cost is $13. The game starts at 6:35. All of our activity happens before the 7th inning stretch. Make sure you know how to access the donation page on the site (Use your phone). Car pooling is good.


Clean up the Kane is this Saturday. Preregister at Arrive at the Loon Mt. Parking area at 8:30; we expect people will be done by noon.


Respectfully submitted,


Lora Miller, secretary