Green Burial Options
In recent years, green burials (also referred to as natural burials) have grown in popularity. As environmental concerns become more prevalent, many people are now interested in eco-friendly burials and doing what they can to help the environment.
Green burials are viewed as a natural way to care for remains and return them to the Earth. In addition to using less energy and consuming fewer resources, an eco funeral is focused on making simple and natural choices. Green burials use caskets made from biodegradable materials or a simple shroud to wrap the body and bury it.
Many green cemeteries also follow specific guidelines for these types of burials. While not necessarily required or followed by all cemeteries, these guidelines often include:
- Graves must be dug by hand.
- The soil removed from the grave is the same soil that is used to refill the grave.
- Vaults or cement grave liners are prohibited.
- Only biodegradable materials can be buried with the body.
- The grave must be refilled by hand, leaving a mound to let settle naturally over time.
Benefits of Green Burials
According the Green Burial Council, it is estimated that more than 60,000 tons of steel and 4.8 million gallons of embalming fluid are used for traditional burials each year. That equates to enough steel to build the Eifel Tower 8 times and enough embalming fluid to fill 8 Olympic sized swimming pools.
The obvious and most important benefit of an eco-friendly burial is the minimal environmental impact. With a traditional burial, caskets and burial vaults are buried within the earth. Embalming fluids and other chemicals are also used to preserve the body. Each of these resources can have negative environmental impacts.
Green burials also present the opportunity to benefit the community. When traditional cemeteries become full, they leave the land unusable for anything else. A green cemetery is different because everything that is placed in the ground is decomposable. This presents the opportunity for the cemetery to be transformed into a conservation area, park or community garden.
A final benefit of an eco funeral is the financial savings. Because you do not need to purchase a burial vault or pay for embalming, these savings can be used to help offset the cost of a funeral service or celebration of life.