The best books if you literally want to go green when you die

Why am I passionate about this?

Saving the planet one death at a time is truly what the world needs now: to reduce our carbon footprint and go out in eco-friendly style. As the one-woman funeral service in the rural town of Boring, Oregon, I support the philosophy of old-school burial practices that are kinder to both humans, the earth, and our wallets. I have humbly been baptized the Green Reaper for my passionate advocacy of green burial, and as an undertaker and the owner and undertaker of Cornerstone Funeral, the first green funeral home in the Portland area. I love to devour all literature possible on green burial and environmentally friendly death care.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Green Burial Guidebook: Everything You Need to Plan an Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Burial

What is my book about?

Funeral expenses in the United States average more than $10,000. And every year conventional funerals bury millions of tons of wood, concrete, and metals, as well as millions of gallons of carcinogenic embalming fluid. There is a better way, and Elizabeth Fournier, affectionately dubbed the “Green Reaper,” walks you through it, step-by-step. She provides comprehensive and compassionate guidance, covering everything from green burial planning and home funeral basics to legal guidelines and outside-the-box options, such as burials at sea. Fournier points the way to green burial practices that consider both the environmental well-being of the planet and the economic well-being of loved ones.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial

Elizabeth Fournier Why did I love this book?

This is the book where it all began. Mark Harris opened up eyes and hearts to the beauty of burying our loved ones naturally and on our own terms. I had never read such a clear reality of the embalming process and how Americans morphed from simple home burial to the industrial Googleplex of the funeral business. Want to be buried in your backyard or with a sheet off your bed? Read this book! The author is a former environmental columnist with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and his work has been featured in many fabulous places.

By Mark Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grave Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


Book cover of Greening Death: Reclaiming Burial Practices and Restoring Our Tie to the Earth

Elizabeth Fournier Why did I love this book?

A great anthropological read about the past 150 years of death care in this country. She discusses the ingrained traditions held so closely by the public over decades of death. There are so many destructive practices we cling to when someone dies. Suzanne unpacks the sack of societal behaviors that have been none-too-friendly on our precious environment. Our customary American demise practices, which include the procedure of embalming, hardwood and metal caskets, and concrete burial vaults and grave liners, only strengthen this saga.

By Suzanne Kelly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greening Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

We once disposed of our dead in earth-friendly ways-no chemicals, biodegradable containers, dust to dust. But over the last 150 years death care has become a toxic, polluting, and alienating industry in the United States.

Today, people are slowly waking up to the possibility of more sustainable and less disaffecting death care, reclaiming old practices in new ways, in a new age. Greening Death traces the philosophical and historical backstory to this awakening, captures the passionate on-the-ground work of the Green Burial Movement, and explores the obstacles and other challenges getting in the way of more robust mobilization. As the…


Book cover of Our Last Best Act: Planning for the End of Our Lives to Protect the People and Places We Love

Elizabeth Fournier Why did I love this book?

A meaningful and absolutely pleasurable read that supports a treasured purpose in our complex world and justly speaks to one of the genuine accountabilities of being human: caring for and interring our dead. How do we plan for our final needs after passing and retain climate and community? Mallory faced these problems after her parents died in nearly identical biking mishaps a few years apart. She has inspired me greatly with how she writes about one of my favorite subjects. And how extra enjoyable to have my work attributed a few times throughout her book.

By Mallory McDuff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Last Best Act as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As we begin to contemplate death and to embark on practical planning for life's end, many of us long to leave a legacy beyond a transfer of money and property--one that ensures a sustainable earth for our loved ones, our communities, and generations to come. But where do we even begin?

With the sudden deaths of both of her parents, Mallory McDuff found herself in a similar position. Utterly unprepared both emotionally and practically, she began to research sustainable practices around death and dying, determined to honor their commitment to caring for the earth. For McDuff, an educator and environmentalist,…


Book cover of Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: Field Notes from The Death Dialogues Project

Elizabeth Fournier Why did I love this book?

I first learned of the Death Dialogue Projects through Instagram. The author has a standing open call for Tiny Death Stories of 100 words or less, and a few of mine were showcased along with many lovely true tales of personal loss and grief. What a welcome resource as well as her emotionally raw nature of her podcast translates well into her pages. The book is an obvious project of passion embracing death literacy. I love how healing and understanding are weaved through the shared stories.

By Becky Aud-Jennison, Felicia Olin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's Time to Invite Death Out of the Closet!

The impending or actual death of someone close to you can be devastating. It doesn't matter if you knew it was coming, or if it was a total shock-you'll never be the same. There is no right way to grieve, and no appropriate time frame. It's different for everyone.

Author and therapist gone rogue, Becky Aud-Jennison, the creator of The Death Dialogues Project and podcast, has sewn together threads from people's shared personal stories and her own experiences, using them to offer insight and comfort to those who are experiencing the…


Book cover of Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing

Elizabeth Fournier Why did I love this book?

Green burial is not a new idea; it has been practiced for thousands of years and is still commonly practiced around the world. Green burial is also starting to be used as an avenue of enabling the restoration and preservation of habitat. The tradition of green (or natural) burials dates back to ancient times. For most of human history, in cultures where bodies were buried, the body was placed in a grave, perhaps wrapped in a shroud or in a simple box, directly into the ground. Robert’s chapters provide sustenance for the world full of people who exist in complete harmony with the natural world and with each other.

By Robert Wolff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Original Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

• Explores the lifestyle of indigenous peoples of the world who exist in complete harmony with the natural world and with each other.

• Reveals a model of a society built on trust, patience, and joy rather than anxiety, hurry, and acquisition.

• Shows how we can reconnect with the ancient intuitive awareness of the world's original people.

Deep in the mountainous jungle of Malaysia the aboriginal Sng'oi exist on the edge of extinction, though their way of living may ultimately be the kind of existence that will allow us all to survive. The Sng'oi--pre-industrial, pre-agricultural, semi-nomadic--live without cars or…


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The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

By Sammy Stein,

Book cover of The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

Sammy Stein Author Of Fabulous Female Musicians

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been passionate about music for almost my entire life. Jazz music in particular speaks to me but not just jazz. I love music, full stop. I really discovered jazz when I attended a jazz club workshop in London and there, I had to join in or leave. I chose to join in and since then I have never looked back. I was introduced to more jazz musicians and now write about music for three major columns as well as Readers’ Digest. My Women In Jazz book won several awards. I have been International Editor for the Jazz Journalist Association and had my work commissioned by the Library of Congress. 

Sammy's book list on female musicians

What is my book about?

With input from over 100 musicians, the book discusses what exactly jazz is, and how you know you are listening to it. Do we truly know when and how jazz first originated? Who was the first jazz musician? How does jazz link to other genres? What about women in jazz? And writers and journalists? Do reviews make any difference? 

This book is a deep dive into jazz's history, impact, and future. It discusses jazz's social, cultural, and political influence and reveals areas where jazz has had an impact we may not even realize.Its influences on hip hop, the connection to…

The Wonder of Jazz: Music that changed the world

By Sammy Stein,

What is this book about?

This book is very different from other, more general jazz books. It is packed with information, advice, well researched and includes experiences from jazz musicians who gleefully add their rich voices to Sammy's in-depth research. All genres, from hard bop to be-bop, vocal jazz, must instrumental, free jazz, and everything between is covered in one way or another and given Sammy's forensic eye. There is social commentary and discussions of careers in jazz music. The musical background of those in the book is rich and diverse.
Critics comment:
"This new book by Sammy Stein is a highly individual take on…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in environmentalism, funerals, and sustainability?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about environmentalism, funerals, and sustainability.

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