Guide To Green Burial: A Natural Approach To Funerals

Guide To Green Burial: A Natural Approach To...


Commitment to the environment does not need to stop at the end of life. Many people have begun to view their final wishes through a green lens, seizing the opportunity to help protect the environment when they pass away. This natural approach to funerals has led to an increase in green burial cemeteries, green burial caskets, and even green funeral ceremonies such as tree burial. A 2018 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association found that more than half of respondents (53.8 percent) expressed an intention for green memorial options.

Only you and your loved ones can decide if a natural burial is a right option for your family. The following article will introduce you to green burial and provide details on typical costs and available options when choosing natural burial. You can use this information when you comment on your wishes.

What Is An Ecological Burial Or Funeral?

Green burial is designed to have a minimal environmental impact and preserve natural resources. Also called a natural burial, green burial emphasizes simplicity and sustainability. In a typical green burial, the body is not cremated, prepared with chemicals, or buried in a concrete vault. It is simply placed in a biodegradable container and buried in a grave to fully decompose and return to nature.

The characteristics of a green funeral can vary, but most share several similarities intended to reduce the environmental impact of end-of-life arrangements. In most cases, these burials use materials and storage containers that are biodegradable and environmentally friendly by avoiding:

Natural burials do not use traditional embalming fluid. There are alternative chemical-free embalming oils that can be used when needed. These essential oils degrade without leaving chemical traces in the soil.

Typical Options For A Natural Burial

For a more conventional approach, there are many ways to ensure that your final arrangements do not harm the environment. And with each option, there are many things to consider. Do you want to be buried in a predetermined place that your visitors know? Do you want to be cremated and have your ashes scattered? Do you want to have a traditional burial, but have it performed by an ecological funeral home/cemetery?

Due to the wide variety of options available today, it is important to ensure that your final wishes are in writing and that your preferences are specified. Include where you want the burial to take place, such as a morgue that is certified for green services.

Why Choose A Natural Option?

There is nothing new or revolutionary about green burials. Most burials before the mid-19th century were conducted this way, and many traditions still require it. The reasons for selecting this type of burial vary from person to person, but the main motivations for this type of service are:


As with most funeral costs, green funeral prices vary widely by region and type of burial site. The plots in an ecological cemetery, for example, tend to be larger than those in a conventional cemetery, so they can cost more.

This type of burial typically costs between $1,000 to $4,000 and typically includes a burial plot, fees to open and close the grave, a plot marker, and a one-time payment to a perpetual care fund to maintain the property as a burial site. natural burial. It does not include the cost of a funeral or memorial service or any processing/transportation of the body.

The cost of a grave and burial for cremated remains ranges from $200 to $1,000. Please note that these charges do not include the cost of the cremation process itself, which averages $1,000-$2,500 and is performed by a funeral home, morgue, or crematorium. Be sure to compare several funeral homes to find a fair price. Remember that you can save money by providing your casket. Funeral homes are required by law to accept any appropriate burial container without charging an additional fee. So-called “green coffins” can be unnecessary and add thousands of dollars to the final bill.

Because green burial gives you the freedom to refuse unnecessary services and merchandise, it is generally more affordable for your budget. In a green cemetery, you generally won’t pay for a large headstone or its installation costs. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider your budget. Due to its growing popularity, a cost of $5,000 or more is not uncommon for a green burial with a simple pine casket. You can help your loved ones cover their costs by applying for final expense insurance.

Natural Burial Sites

Natural burial promotes the restoration of areas of deteriorated soil and allows for long-term reuse of the land. Natural burial sections generally do not allow vertical monuments. Individual graves are identified by a marker at ground level on the head side of the body. The markers can be a natural rock or a plate, although they are not usually set with concrete. Some natural burial sites choose not to have physical markers, instead indicating grave locations with GPS logs. To preserve the original natural landscape and protect native plants and wildlife, most green cemeteries limit the planting of personal plants and commemorative decorations such as potted flowers, wreaths, flags, chimes, and balloons.

If this approach appeals to you, you’ll need to seek out specific green funeral homes or natural cemeteries that are certified to perform burials this way, and you may need special permission from your state or county to be buried naturally. Some states allow you to have a burial on private land, but this differs from state to state. If this is something that appeals to you, be sure to check the laws in your state.

Hybrid Cemeteries

A hybrid cemetery is a conventional cemetery that offers the essentials of natural burial, either in the entire cemetery or in a designated section. Hybrid cemeteries can obtain a certification that does not require them to use vaults. This will allow you to use any eco-friendly, biodegradable burial container, such as a shroud or softwood coffin.

Natural Cemeteries

The goal of a natural cemetery is to restore or preserve a natural landscape populated by native vegetation and wildlife. Many support sustainable management through land conservation efforts by avoiding fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides to encourage native habitats.

Conservation Cemeteries

Conservation burial takes environmental commitment one step further, applying burial fees to pay for the acquisition, protection, restoration, and management of the land. These tend to occupy large tracts of land, sometimes adjoining an existing park, critical habitat area, wildlife refuge, or nature conservation area.

Choose A Cemetery

Each cemetery has its policies. For example, many green cemeteries do not use machinery or heavy equipment to excavate the grave; instead, the graves are dug by hand. But this is not necessarily the rule. In addition, some natural cemeteries have very strict limitations on the decorations allowed on the site, while others encourage a particular decoration throughout the entire precinct. Unlike traditional cemeteries, many natural cemeteries allow flowers and other plants to be grown directly on the grave.

Be sure to ask about any special restrictions before you buy a plot. If you have very specific wishes, check with a few places to make sure your final requests will be carried out.

Coffins For Ecological Burial

Plain wood, wicker, and even cardboard caskets are acceptable, and recommended, in most green cemeteries. Many new products cater to this type of burial, including biodegradable containers made from paper, cardboard, willow, seaweed, or bamboo that can decompose with little environmental impact.

Supplying your casket instead of buying an expensive option from a funeral director saves a lot of money, but opting for a shroud and forgoing the casket altogether can further reduce cost. You can sew a shroud (or hire a tailor to make one for you at a reasonable price) or you can simply have your loved one wrap you in their favorite blanket or quilt made from natural materials like cotton or wool.

Frequent Questions

Is It Legal To Have A Natural Burial?

Yes. There are no laws prohibiting green or natural burial. But you should be familiar with the federal regulations and the laws of your specific state regarding where a person can be naturally buried.

Can You Bury A Body Without A Coffin?

S. No state law requires the use of a casket for burial. A person may be buried directly in the ground, in a shroud, or a vault without a coffin. Funeral homes and cemeteries may have their own rules about the use of caskets.

What Is The Impact Of A Conventional Burial On The Environment?

Although not generally required by law, for a conventional burial the body is often embalmed. Embalming fluid contains chemicals like formaldehyde that can harm the soil because it can contaminate the soil as the body decomposes. Additional issues such as toxins in the coffin varnish and invasive concrete vaults that prevent natural recovery are also considered impediments to sustainability.

Are Ecological Burials Cheaper Than Conventional Burials?

Yes. Green burials can be substantially less expensive because they do not include the high costs of embalming, ornate caskets, or concrete vaults. Depending on the other elements of the funeral ceremony, a green burial could reduce the cost by thousands of dollars. The funeral plot itself should be comparable to that of conventional cemeteries.

What Is A Home Funeral?

Home funerals allow families to take care of the deceased and all aspects of a funeral at home. These arrangements were the norm in the United States until the 1930s. In a home funeral, loved ones or a legally appointed agent retains custody of the body between death and disposition (burial or cremation) and is responsible for arranging the funeral. the body with legally permitted methods. It’s a good idea to check all of these methods and consider hiring a home funeral guide to support you during this time.

What Is A Mixed Funeral?

A mixed funeral combines elements of more conventional practices with green burial options. For example, you might consider a home funeral and burial in a traditional cemetery, or you might opt for a church funeral service followed by a green burial. A funeral director may be involved in certain administrative aspects, such as transporting the body or obtaining, completing, and filing documents, while family and friends may handle the more personal touches. A mixed funeral can sometimes give you more options, especially when your area has limited options available.

What Is A Home Burial?

If you or members of your family own rural property, home burial may be an option. All states except Arkansas allow burial on private property, although some states require that you designate land as a family cemetery that is limited to family members only. Also, each municipality has its zoning requirements, so be sure to check with yours and obtain the required permits.

Is Cremation An Option With Natural Burials?

Yes. Although the process may be slightly modified to comply with cemetery rules, cremation is often an option for a natural burial. Some natural cemeteries may prohibit the scattering of cremated remains because the density of the elements can suffocate foliage when scattered. Likewise, cremated remains are the result after biodegradable materials have been burned, resulting in little or no environmental benefit.

Will Animals Disturb The Tomb?

No. Burial sites are dug approximately 3.5 feet below ground. Even a boar, which is believed to be the largest burrower in all wildlife, rarely burrows deeper than 12 inches.

What Is The Green Burial Council?

The Green Burial Council is a nonprofit educational organization that sets standards to guide the growing green burial movement by providing certification for qualified providers and reliable information for the public. The group offers an extensive list of vendors across the United States that have certified green burial products for use in your final arrangements.

Next Steps

The decision to go green is yours and your family’s, and the decision is often affected by cost. Whether you’re looking to have a natural burial or a more traditional ceremony, it’s important to understand the costs associated with each service. If you’re worried about the high cost of funerals, you’re not alone.

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