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Know the West

Photographs of open-air cremation in Colorado

As eco-minded baby boomers age, they’re seeking alternatives to modern funerals.


Death rites are becoming more down-to-earth here in the West. As eco-minded baby boomers age, they’re seeking out alternatives to the trappings of  modern funerals — with all their concrete burial vaults and chemical embalming. Even cremation uses a lot of energy. Instead, they’re choosing to be buried wrapped in shrouds or in plain pinewood caskets, and even, in one small Colorado town, cremated in the open air, using piñon and juniper boughs. Crestone, Colorado, has hosted one of the only legal providers of open-air cremation in the United States since 2008.  –High Country News intern Kate Schimel