Burnsville resident Katherine Savage feels a unique kinship with a small patch of ground on the campus of Warren Wilson College. The 5-foot by 60-foot plot was home this year to a crop of flax, a traditional Southern Appalachian fiber plant, which she is helping process into linen that she will someday wear as her burial shroud.
According to the Green Burial Council, burials in the United States annually put 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluids, 20 million feet of wood, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 17,000 tons of copper and bronze and 64,500 tons of steel into the ground. Local green burial sites offer an alternative with less environmental impact.
On Halloween we honor our ancestors and remember that death is an inevitable part of life. But the process of death and dying is changing in Western North Carolina, as alternative death and burial practices become more prevalent.