Green Burial vs Modern Cemetery

Preserve History; Preserve the Earth. 

When it comes to burial, there are two different overall outlooks. One group is concerned preserving precious wilderness and returning naturally to the earth, and the other group wants to preserve and share their history and life experiences with others beyond their lifetime. If we consider this fact, it becomes clear that both contemporary cemeteries and green burial grounds serve a specific, important purpose to society. One preserves our earth. One preserves our history.

Focus each Cemetery on what it does Best.

Some consumers are beginning to inquire about more sustainable endings. They question the necessity of embalming, the cost and material waste of contemporary caskets and wonder why green burial isn’t made more widely available.

Although new green burial grounds have been opening up in answer to these concerns, offering embalming-free burials and biodegradable caskets, contemporary cemeteries have also begun looking to meet the consumer’s desires by offering green burials in their contemporary cemeteries. Additionally, some modern cemeteries even offer green burials right alongside contemporary burials. The question we must ask here is - do families looking for green burial want to be buried in town, in a contemporary, manicured and paved cemetery? For most, we have found the answer is “no”.

What's really driving the green burial funeral movement...

People see modern, paved, landscaped cemeteries as wasteful. They see land as a valuable resource. What green burial advocates are really concerned about is land conservation, not their carbon footprint. Cemeteries and crematories offering carbon offsets are completely out of touch. It's also quite ridiculous to "green wash" a cemetery, labeling it a "hybrid", (offering green burial in the middle of a concrete-lined cemetery.) As you will notice,
the most revered green burial grounds are usually off the beaten path, non-landscaped, non-paved plots of land rife with native trees and vegetation. The families who choose to bury loved ones in these lands don’t want paved roads to get to them. They want the natural process of returning to the earth to take place amid the beauty of nature. They want to contribute to a practice that conserves the land for future generations. These desires are unfortunately not ones that fit well into a contemporary cemetery space. However, this statement is not meant to devalue the modern cemetery. Rather, we would like to point out that the contemporary, paved, manicured cemetery has a grander agenda on its hands than to turn its sights towards "hybrid" burial to address the real issue of infrequent visitation.

Reuse is 100% Eco-Friendly

When we think of green or sustainable, most often the first thing that comes to mind is a biodegradable product or an efficient reuse of resources. Let us consider the three R’s to reducing waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. By actually following the lifecycle of a product, reusing and repurposing the item, this achieves the purpose of sustainability.

A Greener Cemetery is a Frequented Cemetery

The fact of the matter is that modern cemeteries already exist. Their land has already been designated for burial purposes. Their roads are already paved. Their locations are centrally located, well-known, convenient and easily accessed. Green burial advocates do not diminish their significant benefits. However, these locations are simply not frequented.

Modern Cemeteries are Rich in History

Modern cemeteries are rich, historical repositories that have the power to incorporate elements of fun, entertainment, and educational experiences to their visitors. They can transform their conveniently located and gloriously maintained parks into interactive biographical and historical time capsules for families and the public to enjoy.

Technology Brings History to Life

There are so many ways to improve and expand upon these existing cemeteries and memorial parks, yet we do not see the technology face lift taking place. The memorial park can and should be the center of activity in the community. If land is for the living, why not bring these already dedicated parks to life? New technology will improve and reinvigorate the modern cemetery and protect our rich history.

Green Cemeteries = land preservation.  

Modern Cemeteries = history preservation.

We can imagine a rewarding divide taking place between the green burial grounds and modern cemeteries. Let’s consider the purpose of each type of cemetery. While green burial parks will function to preserve green spaces for future generations our modern cemeteries will preserve our local legends, folklore and history. While green burial parks will be the place to go when we want to be reabsorbed back into the earth, our modern cemetery is where we will go to hear the stories of our family, friends and neighbors. Each type of cemetery deserves to function in its strongest capacity. Let’s not dilute the integrity for which each was originally intended.

Our Video on Livening Up Our Cemeteries

Please share your thoughts on natural burial and our modern cemeteries. Can we preserve land and history at the same time? How can we improve our local cemeteries and encourage generations to take an interest in the local history in our cemeteries?