CINCINNATI -- Seventy-five-year-old Kathy Wade, a self-described "tree hugger," feels most at home when she's surrounded by grass, singing birds and trees. She hopes she can stay that way forever -- even after her own death.
He hopes to purchase land to create a green burial-only cemetery called Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary in the Tri-State area. According to him, it's a matter of respecting the planet and reimagining burial traditions to include the creation of new life.
"There are over 2 billion pounds of concrete in our Earth in America today from burials," he said. "There are over 100 million tons of steel and metal and almost a million tons of formaldehyde buried each and every year in America in conventional burials."
These substances are all non-biodegradable. "Green burials," by contrast, involve a biodegradable bamboo casket that will break down as the body does.
He envisions Heritage Acres as a peaceful space with walking trails and benches where both mourners and hikers can come to reflect.
Let's be real, though: This all sounds a little weird to those of us accustomed to concrete vaults and headstones, right? Wouldn't there be a risk of a smell or of getting snacked on by wild animals?
No, according to Gupton. The minimum required depth for burials is too deep for any animals -- humans included -- to smell the body, he said, and "animals are much more interested in living prey above the ground than in working that hard."
Gupton is in the process of acquiring a plot of land to make his vision of a peaceful, eco-friendly post-mortem retreat a reality. He hopes it can open in 2019.
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