FDChat #05 – Green Burial with Joe Sehee

FDChat #05 – Green Burial with Joe Sehee

with nancy


Nancy Burban has a lengthy discussion with the forward thinking Joe Sehee of the Green Burial Council. He reminds us that the world is moving toward a more green approach to living and dying and touches on the many threats and opportunities to green burial.

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Show Notes

Contact at the GBC

Interview Excerpt:
Nancy:  What do you think about the government? Do you think the government will get involved in green burial at any point?

Joe:  Only if we don't do a good job policing ourselves, and I think that's always the case. Once there's some scandals out there and people are effected. I'm working with a funeral association and estate that's trying to help put forth legislation to define green cemeteries. Because there is a guy in this state who got ordained online and then got an exemption from the cemetery bureau started taking money to sell burial plots and had his property foreclosed on and left town.

And we had to work with his partner to refund money and to prevent a real scandal. Thankfully no one was buried, but these are the kinds of things that can happen if there's no oversight and no one is looking under the hood to say, what's going on, fellas? Is there really a legally enforceable mechanism that runs with the land? Is there a deed restriction or a conservation easement?

Or how are you requiring that future operators enforce these promises that are being made today? You know? And how do we know that these protocols are going to result in the outcome that you're promising? It's a much bigger issue, by the way, at the cemetery level than it is with funeral homes or product manufacturers.

Nancy:  Right, right. I just brought that up because a lot of cemeterians will be listening to this podcast as well. And I just wanted to get your viewpoint on how that might effect them.

Joe:  Well, I think we're, again, doing a big service. And it's tough work and it's expensive work. And it's challenging work for primarily a volunteer organization. But we're allowing them to be able to credibly reach out to these more eco conscious consumers. But eco conscious consumers are demanding oversight and transparency and accountability. It's imperative. And again, this isn't understood I think by our culture, but that's really where things are going.

Nancy:  Now, what big lessons have you learned, Joe, being in this movement as long as you have?

Joe:  Well, I think I've learned, again, that ritual requires very light hands. We've seen people be able to participate much more in the funeral burial process and get much more out of it. I hear from funeral directors and cemeterians all the time about this. And we don't want to step on this. I always say that, you know, ritual can't be dictated or codified or served up on any kind of a platter, even a non‑toxic biodegradable one, if it's to really work. And so I think that we need to allow families to come into this on their own and to really give them the space that they need. And we're seeing that.

I think providers really need to do this the right way with the right ethic or not do it at all. And I, four, three years ago even, was out there trying to get people in our network. And now, you know, we're being a lot more careful. And we're trying to tell people, don't get pushed out of your comfort zone.

Green Burial with Joe Sehee Transcript

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