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People's Daily Online>>China Society

China city uses dissolvable urns for green burial

(Xinhua)

08:13, April 05, 2012

TIANJIN, April 4 (Xinhua) -- People in a north China city have been offered a new way to go green -- put the ashes of their loved ones in dissolvable urns and bury them in the soil or in the pond.

That is a far cry from the tradition land burial, which at least involves a plot of land, a tombstone, a vegetation-covered mound behind the tombstone, and a platform in the front for the display of offerings.

Authorities want to promote the eco-friendly funeral so much that they offer it free at Yong'an Cemetery in Tianjian, a municipality south of Beijing. On Wednesday, the Qingming Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day, 100 families attended the mass funeral to have their loved ones buried here.

The burial site of Yong'an is basically a 400-square-meter lawn and a 200-square-meter pond. The urns are made of biological materials that can easily dissolve in soil three to six months after burial, said Tan Yun, manager of the cemetery.

"There is no pollution and the deceased can completely 'melt into' the Mother Nature," Tan said, adding that more than 1,000 people have been laid to rest in peace in the cemetery.

But, just as other green burial methods -- sea burial or tree burial -- the idea still remains controversial as some families hesitate to rest the deceased relatives without tombs and even without a single mark.

Many Chinese families are typically willing to shell out for the funeral, buying expensive cinerary caskets, picking location with best Feng Shui, and paying for elaborate funeral proceedings to show their respect.

But the ballooning funeral cost has forced some families to reconsider whether it is worth the money.

"Only 15 families came to us when we first opened." Tan said. "But more and more people are accepting this new concept now, especially among the better educated people."

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