Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Opens Its First ‘Green’ Cemetery

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BAKERSTOWN (KDKA) — Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Nothing fulfills that declaration sooner than what’s called a green burial site.

“There’s no embalming needed for the remains. There can be a biodegradable casket, biodegradable cremation urn. No need for concrete burial vaults. It’s a very natural piece, very peaceful place to visit,” Mike Sinnott told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday.

Sinnott is executive director of the Catholic Cemeteries Association of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

An environmentally-sound natural burial with no chemicals is becoming more popular, says Sinnott.

“It actually has become quite popular in the last number of years around the country,” he says.

That’s why the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has just opened its first green burial site, the St. Francis of Assisi green burial section, in a quiet meadow behind Holy Savior Catholic Cemetery off Bakerstown Road in Pine and Richland Townships.

Once interred, the gravesite is covered with flowers.

“In the summertime, in the spring and summer, it’s absolutely beautiful, radiant flowers blooming, and then the fall and late summer, it becomes a little muted,” says Sinnott.

Part of what makes this a green burial site is that there are no individual markers down in the meadow here. Instead, everyone buried on thr site will be listed on a common monument.

“We don’t allow markers on the individual graves. It keeps the traffic down from going into the section, disturbing the natural aspect of it,” notes Sinnott.

Of course, the cemetery knows exactly where your loved one is buried.

The location of every loved one is mapped carefully and shared with family.

Delano: “Would you provide that information?”

Sinnott: “Very easily.”

Delano: “And you could help them locate the site?”

Sinnott: “We can walk them right to it.”

Just don’t plant or leave anything on the site.

One other advantage to a green burial — no embalming, wooden caskets, and the like can save money.

“You can save money. It depends on your overall selection,” Sinnott says.

Green burials are not for everyone, but for the eco-conscious it’s another option.

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