What is Green Burial?
Green Burial is a commitment to returning the body to the earth as naturally as possible and avoiding practices which unnecessarily impede the process of nature. The most common elements of Green Burial are the avoidance of embalming or other chemical preservatives, the selection of a biodegradable casket and shroud and the elimination of the outer burial container, if permitted by the cemetery. Although most Green Burial services are graveside, the funeral or memorial service can be personalized according to the wishes of the family, taking into consideration religious preference.
Green Burial offers several levels of commitment so even if you have already purchased a burial plot at a cemetery which requires an outer burial container, you can still participate in Green Burial in other ways such as the selection of a biodegradable casket and shroud or cremation urn, declining embalming, choosing a simple stone or flat grave marker or even placing holes at the bottom of the outer burial container.
If you have not purchased a burial plot, there are cemeteries in the area which promote natural burial options:
Is it more expensive?
No. In most cases, a natural/Green Burial is less expensive than a traditional burial. Because it is a simpler process trading a more elaborate metal or finished casket for a simpler unfinished or biodegradable casket, the costs can decrease significantly. The elimination of the embalming, public viewing (in some cases) and even the outer burial container also offer considerable savings.
Why not embalm?
Except in some cases, such as when remains are to be placed in a mausoleum, there is no federal law requiring embalming. Embalming fluid is primarily a formaldehyde product which became a common source of preservation to transport the remains of soldiers to their homes during the Civil War. Embalming is not required to sanitize remains, may pose a health risk to funeral industry workers and can be replaced with refrigeration as a means of temporary preservation. Private visitation is permitted without embalming.
What about cremation?
The impact of cremation on the environment is often misleading. While cremation does use fewer resources than traditional burial, it does require the burning of fossil fuels and can result in the emission of mercury. Families who prefer cremation but would like to pursue natural burial options of the cremated remains are urged to select a biodegradable cremation container, a biodegradable cremation urn and a natural or flat headstone to mark the final resting place.
How do we incorporate Green Burial options into funeral planning?
Because there are several participation levels which conform to Green Burial practices, our staff can guide your family at each step offering various options that include caskets or urns constructed of biodegradable matter; refrigeration and sanitation options to avoid embalming; and natural burial shrouds. Families are permitted a private visitation even if embalming is declined.
Our staff can also assist with the selection of a cemetery if you wish. Participation of the family in filling the grave is offered, providing not only environmental but also spiritual benefits to survivors. Marking the grave can range from a natural marker to a flat memorial marker to a larger marker. We can assist with selection and engraving according to your family’s wishes and the cemetery’s requirements.
Green Burial arrangements can be prefunded in advance through a trust or an insurance policy.
We serve all of our families with compassion, dignity and respect. Our staff is prepared to assist families of all faiths, at any Green Burial commitment level or at no Green Burial commitment level in order to provide affordable funeral goods and services that are appropriate for you. The loss of a loved one is already a time of grief, shock, immeasurable sadness and often vulnerability. Our role is to provide guidance, options and answers that you are comfortable with at your time of need. We are here to help.