FULTONVILLE - Even after death, people can still protect the local environment.
The Village Board unanimously passed a motion Monday to allow "natural burials" in a two-acre wooded section of the cemetery.
Ryan Weitz, village historian, who has been studying natural burials for about three years, held a public hearing about the proposal before the meeting.
Ryan Weitz talks at a public hearing in Fultonville on Monday.
The Leader-Herald/Casey Croucher
Weitz explained how natural burials are environmentally friendly. People are buried without being preserved, he said. The burial must happen soon after the person's death, and the person is buried in a biodegradable shroud composed of natural fibers.
Weitz said the embalming fluids used with traditional funerals are toxic. The concrete vaults and caskets are not good for the environment either, Weitz said, because they cannot be broken down naturally.
He also explained that cremation, which is about the same price as a natural burial, isn't good for the environment either. Weitz said cremation releases mercury into the air.
Weitz said natural burials are not only better for the environment, they're cheaper.
A traditional burial costs anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 when all of the expenses are added up. A natural burial will cost about $2,000, Weitz said.
Weitz also explained that cremation, which is about the same price as a natural burial, isn't good for the environment either. Weitz said cremation releases mercury into the air.
A natural burial lot in the cemetery, which is a 10 foot by 10 foot piece of land, would cost Montgomery County residents $500 and non-residents $700. Weitz said the size of the lot would make burial space "flexible."
Weitz said he thinks natural burials will attract interest from people in the Capital District who want to participate.
Rules for someone to participate in a natural burial include: the body must not be embalmed; the shroud must be biodegradable; no concrete vaults or grave liners are allowed; and the memorial stone cannot be cut or polished marble.
Everything must be natural to comply with the environmentally-friendly focus, he said.
At the hearing, residents of the village said they liked the option of having natural burials in their cemetery.
Mayor Robert Headwell also approved of the idea.
"I think we should move forward with [natural burials]," he said. "It's nice having another option at the cemetery."