Green Burial: End of life decision - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Green Burial: End of life decision

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -------- Have you ever considered a green burial? And do you know what that means?

It's a new trend in end of life decisions.

We found people in the area who are choosing the trend and in a surprising place.

Six years ago, Franciscan Sister Sharon Berger attended an energy fair and heard about the "green burial." She shared what she learned with the other sisters.

89-year-old Sister Helen Gobres was one of them.  "When I described it to her she said 'that's what I want'." 

Sister Sharon says "It wasn't that easy. We had to go through a conditional use permit. Get all the county and state regulations. Have a public hearing and had to have the land surveyed."

It took 2 years.

Sister Helen was 91 when she passed away. She was the first one buried. Three other Sisters have been buried there since.

Funeral Director Joe Schams is working with the Sisters. Schams is from the Coulee Region Cremation Group and says it's not that easy to just be buried green. "We don't have a green cemetery in our area."

More than 2 million tons of metal and concrete and more than 30 million pounds of hard wood goes into the ground with a body preventing it from returning naturally to the earth. Those materials cause damage to the ground, trees and wildlife. 

Until the industry is more heavily monitored, Schams says some people customize their funerals and make choices based on price and convenience. "If it's winter and you want to wait until it's nice out to have the Memorial Service, you can do it around your schedule not the funeral homes."

Sister Sharon says the time to plan your funeral is while you're alive and that Green Burials are the way to care for the environment long after you're gone. "I think it's what helps us to live our life the best we can because we know we don't have forever."

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