More and more people are considering the natural/home/green burial as an alternative to the traditional funeral. The green burial is an environmentally-friendly option, and it’s about simplicity and sustainability. It may come as a shock to you, but the green burial is, in fact, a traditional burial method.

What’s the brief description of green burials?

The green burial is an affordable and eco-friendly option that is all about the return to Mother Earth, sort to speak.

Natural, conservation, and hybrid cemeteries do respect sustainable principles and rules to help the family of the deceased to go through a green burial. In many areas in the United States, it’s actually legal to burry on private land.

Why should you consider a green burial?

It’s traditional for many countries in the world for the local funeral home to take the body of the deceased. Once it gets there, the body will be embalmed with three gallons of chemicals (more or less), which will reduce the risk for decomposition once the body is placed into the ground.

We’re not offending anyone when highlighting that traditional burial is quite expensive, and it’s mainly because of the caskets, which tend to be quite pricey. Metal, wood, and other materials used for traditional containers are going to take the price over $1,000, especially when buying from a funeral home.

According to the statistics, a million pounds of metal, concrete, and wood are used every year when burying the dead. And that’s the number only for the United States.

bereavement, burial, cemetery

One may think that cremation is a better option, but you may overlook the fact that cremation actually involves a lot of fuel. Dirt, grass, and pretty flowers, along with a beautiful headstone/marker, will mark the spot. And all of the details count and increase the price of the funeral service.

The green burial has been becoming slowly popular only recently. Truth be told, eco-friendly burial does present an environmental vibe. Most of the time, the green burial/funeral is about caring for the deceased in a way that has a minor environmental impact. It’s about using biodegradable and non-toxic materials, with shrouds, caskets, and urns as the most common options. An eco-friendly burial doesn’t include chemical embalming and only involves green-friendly fluids for the embalming. Even if the casket is used in the green burial, it’s one made with biodegradable materials.

It goes beyond saying that green burial is fundamentally about connecting spiritually with the ground. It’s the ultimate way to show respect to life, death, and the earth that kept us when we were alive.

But that’s not the only reason for which the people would go with the green burial. The materials are simple, and there is no embalming involved, which can also mean lower spending for the whole funeral. Even if the body is placed in a cemetery, the lack of the pricey embalming chemicals and the fancy caskets will only cut down the spending for the funeral service.

old stone bench, abandoned cemetery, double tomb

How many types of green burials are?

Where you live and what you want for a green burial will reflect on the type of green burial you’re going with.

Some people eliminate the embalming completely, whereas others will replace the traditional embalming fluid with essential oils. People in the green burial industry recommend using a non-toxic embalming agent, dry ice, or even a refrigeration unit. When none of these are available, merely placing the body at home and keeping it cool with some fans may work.

It’s absolutely normal for a natural burial not to require embalming. Anyway, embalming is made for the aesthetic reasons, since it reduces the risk for decomposition before the viewing.

Don’t get us wrong; people still go with the metal and wood caskets a lot. However, more and more people are interested in biodegradable coffins (pods). They are made of wicker or cardboard, decomposing together with the body placed inside.

In some areas in the United States, it’s legal to bury a body without any coffin or casket. The body is wrapped in a shroud or cloth, and put inside a hole. Dirt will cover it later on, allowing nature to follow its course. One may wonder about the safety issues with unconfined bodies (do they contaminate the groundwater or not). However, studies have revealed that there aren’t significant problems with the cause of natural burials. This statement is valid only when the natural burial is adequately made, of course. Can you believe that it’s actually the embalming materials and caskets that pose a risk for microbiological contamination and not the putrefaction per se?

We also notice that many people like the idea of home burial, in which the deceased is buried in the family’s property. It’s nothing new, and it’s what our ancestors used to do. Even if the home burial is legal in many states in the U.S., don’t forget about the rules regarding minimal acreage.

On the side note, California, Indiana, and Washington do forbid the home burial. Some other states also established strict rules about the home burial. Should you consider burial on your private land, you may still need a permit from the local government and do it according to the local regulations. More often than not, if you own the land, you shouldn’t deal with problems when acquiring the mandatory permits for home burial.

crow, raven, bird

Any tips to remember when choosing a green burial?

It may sound harsh, but some may want to give a thought about the funeral they want. If the natural funeral interests you, you should keep in mind several aspects.

  • Municipal regulations differ from one place to another, and they’re related to the needs of the environment. If you live on 200acres in the countryside, you’re not going to have problems like one living in an apartment in the city. You should always go ask the governing body to find out about the specific regulations on the green burials/
  • It’s also better to get in touch with the Green Burial Council, which is a non-profit organization controlling the green funeral industry. They can also provide you with a rating system for services and products, or recommend the funeral homes close to you that have green choices.
  • No law is requiring you to buy a casket or a vault in the cemetery when choosing a natural burial. Every cemetery is allowed to establish its own set of rules. Some may require you to buy a casket and the vault for the internment, and, much to your surprise, it’s perfectly legal for them to do so.

The conclusion

There are almost 100 registered green burial cemeteries and memorial woodlands all the way across the United States. They’re certified as natural burial sites; don’t forget to check the hybrid cemeteries that allow both traditional and natural burials to happen.

Many refer to the green burial cemetery as the eco-cemetery so that you know when you hear about the name.