What is Green Burial?

What is Green Burial?

Green burial incarnates the pure nature of allowing the body to return naturally to the earth. When one opts for a natural green burial, he or she is contributing to the preservation of the land. Green burials are a practical alternative to both traditional burials and cremation. There is either no embalming or embalming with non-toxic, formaldehyde-free fluids, no headstones and no grave liners. (Grave liners are concrete boxes that line the inside of the grave, like an open-ended box with no lid, used to keep regular cemeteries flat for grass to be mowed easily). The container that holds the body (coffin, casket, or shroud) must be 100% biodegradable.

Green burial grounds adopt principles of restoration ecology, to eventually become natural wilderness preserves. Restoration ecologists study the land to learn what is native, what had invaded the land, what wildlife existed, and plan to encourage the restoration and preservation of the grounds. Land is maintained without chemicals or non-native plantings.

Although many consider green burial a new choice in burial options, green burials have been in existence for many years. Families used to care for their own deceased loved ones, and usually buried them on their own property. Although they weren’t called green burials then, we now understand the wisdom of these practices.

Why choose green burial?

Those who choose Green Burial oppose the chemicals used in the traditional embalming process. However, the funeral industry is working to reduce and eliminate these issues. New environmentally friendly embalming fluids and chemicals are now available by some of the leading funerary chemical manufacturers.

To help further reduce waste, green burial supporters choose biodegradable, sustainable solutions for their end-of-life plans. This includes burial choices of sustainably grown woods, woven baskets, natural pottery urns, and other earth friendly materials. However, there is no need to purchase a product to ensure a green departure. Sustainable products include the reuse of retired objects that could be good for the purposes of burial or cremains.

Benefits of Green Burial

  • Environmentally friendly, low impact burials. 
  • Land stewardship and restoration planning. 
  • Sustainable burial methods.
  • Restrictions to keep the grounds exclusively as green cemetery. 
  • Some use naturally flat stones or native trees used for grave markers with GIS coordinates recorded. Others have no grave-markers. 
  • Oftentimes, it is purely forest and meadows 

Green Burial Facts

Enriches Soil. Adds organic material, Improves fertility and productivity. Suppresses plant diseases, discourages insects, increases water retention, inoculates soil with beneficial microorganisms, reduces or eliminates fertilizer needs, moderates soil temperature.

Prevents Pollution. Reduces methane production in landfills, reduces or eliminates organic garbage, reduces or eliminates sewage.

Fights Existing Pollution. Degrades toxic chemicals, binds heavy metals, cleans contaminated air, cleans storm-water runoff.

Aids in reforestation, helps restore wildlife habitats, helps reclaim mined lands, helps restore damaged wetlands, helps prevent erosion on flood plains.

Destroys Pathogens. Can destroy human disease organisms, plant pathogens, and livestock pathogens.

Eliminates waste disposal costs. Reduces the need for water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Extends landfill life by diverting materials and is a less costly bioremediation technique.

Our Video Supporting the Need for Green Burial 

Please share your thoughts about Green Burial. 
Have you known anyone who has chosen a green burial or have you visited a green burial cemetery? If so, what did you find different/like about the cemetery? 
Will you choose green burial for yourself? Why or why not?