Green Funerals: Exploring Natural Burials

Natural burials

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The traditional American funeral is often filled with expensive coffins, lots of flowers, and embalming. But, more people are choosing a greener option – the “green burial.” These burials use fewer resources and leave out many traditional steps. They’re a sustainable choice for saying goodbye.

Interest in these eco-friendly funerals is growing as people look to reduce their environmental impact. Surveys show that over half of Americans are interested in green funerals for their eco-friendly and cost-saving benefits1. With more than 287 cemeteries in the US and Canada now offering green burial services1, it’s clear that natural, sustainable memorials are gaining popularity.

Key Takeaways

  • Green burials offer a more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional funerals and cremation.
  • Interest in green funeral options has grown significantly, with over 50% of Americans considering natural burials.
  • The number of cemeteries providing green burial services has expanded to at least 287 in the US and Canada.
  • Green burials can result in significant cost savings compared to traditional funerals or cremation.
  • The shift towards natural burials reflects a growing desire for sustainable end-of-life practices.

Understanding Green Burials

Green burials are a way to honor the deceased that’s kinder to the planet2. They skip the usual steps like embalming and concrete vaults, using biodegradable caskets instead2. The idea is to lessen harm to the environment, even going as far as burying people in trees or pods2.

What Are Green Burials?

These burials focus on protecting nature and letting the body decompose naturally3. They don’t use embalming fluids, concrete, or fancy caskets. Instead, they choose materials that let the body break down easily2. The Green Burial Council sets standards for different levels of green burials, like hybrid, natural, and conservation3.

The Benefits of Eco-Friendly Funerals

Green burials are better for the planet2. They help keep ecosystems safe and can be cheaper than traditional burials, starting at $1,0004. But, some green options might cost more, between $1,000 to $4,0004.

A 2017 survey found 53.8% of people wanted eco-friendly burials4. This shows a move towards caring for the earth even after we’re gone2. Traditional burials might be better if there’s a long wait before the burial, since green burials don’t need embalming2.

Avoiding Embalming and Concrete Vaults

Green burials are a kinder choice than traditional funerals, avoiding the harm of embalming and concrete vaults5. In the U.S., cemeteries use a lot of embalming fluid and steel, and a lot of concrete5. This can hurt the environment, as the embalming fluid can pollute soil and water, and making concrete and steel causes more greenhouse gases6.

Choosing a green burial means skipping these harmful elements, making funerals less bad for the planet5. A survey showed many Americans want green burials, showing a big interest in these eco-friendly choices5. More cemeteries are now offering these options, with 72 green cemeteries in the U.S. recognized by the Green Burial Council5.

Green burials are better for the earth and give a deeper way to remember loved ones7. They use less land and help keep nature around them7. Plus, they’re seen as better for the planet than cremation, which uses a lot of energy and can pollute7.

Metric Traditional Burial Green Burial
Embalming Fluid 4 million gallons annually 0 gallons
Steel and Concrete 1.6 million tons of concrete, 64,000 tons of steel 0 tons
Greenhouse Gas Emissions 178 tons of CO2 annually 25 pounds of carbon sequestered

Choosing green burials lets families say goodbye in a way that’s good for the earth567. It helps protect nature and lowers the funeral industry’s harm to the planet567.

Rethinking Burial Containers

The green burial movement is growing, leading more people to look for eco-friendly options for their final rest. A key part of this is choosing the right burial container. Unlike traditional coffins, green burials use biodegradable and sustainable materials.

Biodegradable Caskets and Shrouds

For a green burial, you can use a shroud, quilt, blanket, or a biodegradable casket instead of a traditional coffin. These biodegradable options make the burial process more natural and eco-friendly.8 Bamboo, willow, or cardboard caskets are popular for those wanting a green funeral8.

Shrouds are another eco-friendly choice. They’re simple cloth wrappings for the body. This lets the body go back to the earth without a casket. Shrouds can be made from organic cotton, linen, or bamboo8.

More people are choosing sustainable burial containers because they’re aware of the environmental impact of traditional funerals. By picking biodegradable options, families can lower their carbon footprint and help the deceased return to nature.9

Burial Container Environmental Impact
Traditional Coffin 250 pounds of carbon emissions9
Green Burial (Shroud or Biodegradable Casket) 25 pounds of carbon emissions9

As more people choose green burials, there are more sustainable burial containers available9. Families now have many ways to honor their loved ones in an eco-friendly way.

“Green burials offer a natural and sustainable way to return to the earth, minimizing our impact on the environment even in death.”

By changing traditional burial practices and using biodegradable caskets and shrouds, we can help the environment. This lets us make a positive impact and leave a sustainable legacy.

Protecting Natural Habitats

Green burials offer more than just a way to honor the dead. Places like Life After Life in Brooklyn turn old industrial sites into parks and homes for wildlife10. This helps the environment and supports local communities.

Choosing a natural burial means less harm to the earth. It can even help lock away carbon dioxide and skip the need for mowing and watering10. This way, people help protect local ecosystems and create spaces for nature to thrive.

“Green cemeteries are a way to preserve land and create new habitats, rather than just a place to bury the dead.”

Conservation cemeteries focus on fixing and protecting nature, linking eco-friendly burials to saving the environment11. These places are not just for burying people; they help the local ecosystem.

Opting for a green burial makes a positive mark on the planet, even at the end of life. As more people choose this option, it’s becoming a key way to care for the Earth and remember loved ones101112.

Cost Savings of Green Funerals

Green burials are a cheaper way to say goodbye compared to traditional funerals. They skip embalming, concrete vaults, and pricey coffins. This makes them much less expensive13. These eco-friendly burials can cost between $1,000 to $4,000, including the grave and other fees13. You can find biodegradable caskets for $50 to $1,000, with cardboard being the cheapest13. Shrouds made from natural fibers are also affordable, costing $200 to $1,00013.

Traditional funerals with viewing and burial cost about $7,848 in 2021, with embalming adding another $2,20013. Direct cremation is cheaper, averaging $1,100, but can go from $1,000 to $5,00013. Green burials are popular for their simplicity and eco-friendliness, avoiding harmful chemicals and protecting nature13. The Living Urn offers green burial urns13.

The average cost of a traditional American funeral is $7,848, with cemetery costs adding up to about $10,00014. Cremation is much cheaper, averaging $5,150, offering a big savings over traditional burials14. In Texas, green burial plots cost $300 to $1,400, with extra fees for opening and closing the plot14. Doing it yourself can be under $1,500, and a full green funeral with a funeral home and cemetery can be $2,500 to $3,50014.

Funeral Type Average Cost
Traditional Funeral with Burial $7,848 – $10,000
Cremation Funeral $5,150
Green Burial $1,000 – $4,000
DIY Green Burial Under $1,500
Green Funeral with Funeral Home $2,500 – $3,500

More people are choosing natural burials for their lower cost and environmental benefits15. The NFDA says 54% of Americans are thinking about green burials15. Green burials can save $3,000 compared to traditional services15. Funeral homes offering eco-friendly options are gaining an edge, as families look for affordable and green choices15.

The Growing Demand for Natural Burials

The funeral industry is changing as more people want sustainable end-of-life choices16. About 18 percent of those over 40 are choosing green burial services or products16. This trend is expected to keep growing.

At West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 73 people have been buried in the green burial area, with 258 more spots sold for later16. Laurel Hill Cemeteries sells about 50 green burial lots each year16. This shows how more people are looking for eco-friendly options.

Green burials are cheaper than traditional ones, costing about $3,50016. Traditional funerals can cost around $11,00016. As more people choose green burials, their prices might go up too16.

This trend isn’t just in the U.S17.. Florida has seven cemeteries for green burials, mostly in Central Florida17. Now, one in ten Americans prefers green or natural burials, says a 2023 survey17.

Natural burials are better for the environment17. Traditional burials release about 250 pounds of carbon dioxide, like driving 300 miles. Cremation releases 460 pounds, or the equivalent of a 500-mile drive17. Choosing green burials helps reduce carbon emissions and supports a sustainable future17.

Funeral homes and cemeteries are changing to meet this new demand18. The Green Burial Council certifies places for natural services, including in Indiana18. But, more education and awareness are needed for everyone to understand the benefits of natural burials18.

green burials

In conclusion, more people want natural burials because they care about the planet181617. The funeral industry is offering more green options to meet this need. Choosing natural burials helps reduce environmental harm and honors loved ones in a special way181617.

Sustainability in Funeral Homes

Funeral homes across the United States are now offering green funeral services. This is because more people want eco-friendly options for end-of-life care. These homes use eco-friendly practices to lessen the harm of traditional burials and cremations19.

Incorporating Green Values

These homes skip embalming, fancy caskets, and concrete vaults. They choose natural burial methods that are kinder to the planet19. Even some cemeteries now offer green burials with sustainable designs and natural memorials19. By doing this, they draw in people who care about the earth and get noticed in their communities19.

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) helps funeral homes go green. They offer advice on being eco-friendly, including how to follow environmental laws and run green operations19. They suggest using biodegradable caskets, skipping embalming with formaldehyde-free products, carpooling, and having small gatherings in nature19.

Sustainable Funeral Home Practices Benefits
Forgoing embalming, manufactured caskets, and concrete vaults Reduces environmental impact of traditional burial and cremation processes
Offering natural burial processes Honors the earth and aligns with eco-friendly values
Providing green burial options in conventional cemeteries Meets growing demand for environmentally-conscious end-of-life services
Adopting NFDA’s environmental compliance and best practices guidelines Helps funeral homes implement sustainable business operations

Funeral homes that focus on green values and eco-friendly practices are meeting the demand for sustainable funeral services. They’re also making a big difference for the planet192021.

Natural Burials

Conservation Cemeteries

Natural or green burials are a growing choice in the US, offering a greener option than traditional burials22. They use shrouds or biodegradable caskets and skip embalming and traditional markers22. Cemeteries like Fernwood Cemetery in San Francisco aim to protect wildlife by turning old sites into parks and burial spots for the community23.

Conservation cemeteries take it further by preserving land and restoring nature24. The Green Burial Council sees them as a way to care for the dead with little harm to the environment24. These places follow strict rules to protect nature and help biodiversity24.

Larkspur Conservation Cemetery in California is a prime example of this24. It uses aluminum markers and native stones, and shares GPS coordinates online24. Burials are deep to keep animals out, and there have been no issues with wildlife24. Larkspur also has a fund for keeping the land and graves in good shape24.

More people are choosing natural and conservation burials, showing a shift towards sustainable end-of-life choices23. Even though there are only about 220 natural burial sites in the US, the trend is likely to grow23.

“Green burials are a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that furthers ecological aims such as the conservation of natural resources and the reduction of carbon emissions.”

As more look for alternatives to traditional burials, conservation cemeteries are gaining attention24. Choosing a natural or conservation burial helps reduce environmental harm and supports nature222423.

Alternative Eco-Friendly Options

The need for sustainable end-of-life practices is growing. New eco-friendly burial options are becoming popular, like human composting and water cremation. These options focus on being kind to the environment.

Human Composting

Human composting is now legal in seven states. It’s a natural way to turn human remains into soil that’s full of nutrients25. The body is placed in a steel vessel with wood chips and straw. Then, heat and moisture help break it down into compost in a few weeks.

This compost can feed trees or plants25.

Water Cremation (Alkaline Hydrolysis)

Water cremation, or alkaline hydrolysis, is a green choice instead of traditional fire-based cremation26. It uses heat, pressure, and a special solution to break down the body. What’s left is a liquid and bone fragments that can be turned into ash26.

This method uses much less energy than traditional cremation and is better for the planet26.

These options let people honor their loved ones in a way that’s good for the earth. Eco-friendly burial alternatives like human composting and water cremation offer choices that are good for the planet. They also let families have a more personal way to remember their loved ones.

eco-friendly burial alternatives

“Human composting and water cremation are two groundbreaking alternatives that prioritize environmental responsibility and provide sustainable end-of-life choices.”

Planning for a Green Funeral

Planning a funeral means thinking about what matters to you. Choosing eco-friendly options like natural burials, human composting, or water cremation shows you care for the planet27. It’s important to research and make a choice that matches your beliefs about the environment.

Traditional funerals in the U.S. use a lot of resources, like 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid and 20 million board feet of hardwood each year27. Green funerals are better for the planet, cutting down on the harm caused by traditional funerals.

There are many green funeral options, like natural burials, human composting, or water cremation (Alkaline hydrolysis)272828. These choices are better for the earth and respect your values.

When picking a green funeral, look into local options and talk to a funeral director who knows about green funerals28. This way, you can make a positive impact on the environment, even in your last moments.

“Choosing a green funeral is a powerful way to reduce your environmental impact and leave a lasting positive legacy.”

Eco-Friendly Funeral Options Estimated Costs
Natural Burial $1,000 – $4,000
Wicker or Bamboo Casket $450 – $1,800
Cardboard Coffin $150 or less
Aqua Cremation (Alkaline Hydrolysis) $1,500 – $3,500

Thinking about these green options helps you make a choice that fits your values and lessens the harm of traditional funerals272828.

Environmental Impact of Funeral Choices

End-of-life practices have a big effect on the environment. Traditional burials and cremations create more carbon emissions than green burials. These choices add up, making a big impact on our planet29.

Traditional burials use a lot of formaldehyde, harming the earth. They also use a lot of wood, which equals about 4 million acres of forest each year29. On the other hand, green burials use materials that break down naturally, causing no harm29.

More people are choosing green funerals, with 60% interested in 2022, up from 55.7% the year before30. Younger people are leading this change, showing a growing interest in eco-friendly death options30.

Green burials are better for the planet, capturing 25 lbs. of carbon and reducing emissions by 50%30. There have been no cases of groundwater pollution near these cemeteries since 200330.

Our choices in funerals affect the earth for a long time. Choosing green burials helps reduce our carbon footprint and supports a healthier planet. It’s a way to honor the earth and make a positive change31.

“Green burials can cost far less than conventional burials, with a simple shroud or pine casket costing hundreds of dollars, not thousands.”

31

Conservation burial cemeteries are still new in the U.S., but they follow important principles set by Dr. Billy Campbell31. In 2019, these standards were updated by experts31.

Cremation might seem eco-friendly, but it also pollutes the air and uses more fossil fuels than green burials31. The Green Burial Council suggests ways to lessen the carbon footprint of cremation31.

Thinking about the environment when choosing a funeral helps us make better choices. Whether it’s a green burial, a conservation cemetery, or another eco-friendly option, our choices matter. They can help protect the planet for the future293031.

Conclusion

The need for eco-friendly end-of-life practices is growing. Green funerals and natural burials are becoming popular choices. They use fewer chemicals and less wood, making them better for the planet32.

Choosing a natural burial or other green options can make a big difference. It shows we care about the earth even after we’re gone3334.

More people want to lessen their environmental impact. This is why green and natural burials are becoming more common. They let us say goodbye in a way that helps the earth, not hurts it3233.

FAQ

What are green burials?

Green burials, also known as natural burials, are a greener choice than traditional funerals. They use fewer resources, like skipping embalming and concrete vaults. Instead, they use biodegradable containers like shrouds or caskets made from sustainable materials.

What are the benefits of eco-friendly funerals?

Eco-friendly funerals are better for the planet. They use fewer resources, save money, and protect nature. They also help fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

How do green burials avoid embalming and concrete vaults?

Green burials skip embalming and concrete vaults. This cuts down on harmful chemicals and energy use. It makes the burial process kinder to the earth.

What types of burial containers are used in green burials?

Green burials use biodegradable containers like shrouds or caskets made from sustainable materials. These options are better for the planet than traditional coffins.

How do green cemeteries help protect natural habitats?

Some green cemeteries, like Life After Life in Brooklyn, turn old industrial sites into parks and wildlife habitats. Natural burials have a small environmental impact and can even help fight climate change.

How do green funerals save money compared to traditional ones?

Green funerals cost less because they don’t need embalming, concrete vaults, or expensive coffins. This makes eco-friendly choices more affordable for families.

What is the growing demand for natural burials?

More and more Americans, nearly 54%, are looking into green burials. 72% of cemeteries are seeing more people want eco-friendly options.

How are funeral homes incorporating green values?

Funeral homes like Prout Funeral Home in New Jersey are adding green services to meet demand. They focus on sustainability by avoiding embalming and using natural materials.

What are some alternative eco-friendly burial options?

Besides natural burials, options like human composting and water cremation are gaining popularity. These methods are much better for the environment than traditional cremation or burial.

How can I plan for a green funeral?

Think about what matters to you when planning a funeral. Look into natural burials, composting, water cremation, and other green choices. This way, your final wishes will reflect your love for the earth.

What is the environmental impact of different funeral choices?

Traditional funerals and cremations harm the environment a lot, especially the climate. But, choosing options like composting or green burials can greatly reduce your carbon footprint.

Source Links

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  2. Natural Burial vs. Green Burial: What’s the Difference? – https://www.memorialplanning.com/blog/difference-between-natural-green-burial
  3. Green Burial Defined – https://www.greenburialcouncil.org/green_burial_defined.html
  4. Guide to Green Burial – A Natural Approach to Funerals – https://www.lhlic.com/consumer-resources/green-burial/
  5. More People Want a Green Burial, but Cemetery Law Hasn’t Caught Up • Stateline – https://stateline.org/2019/11/20/more-people-want-a-green-burial-but-cemetery-law-hasnt-caught-up/
  6. Natural Burial for a Greener Afterlife – https://earth911.com/living-well-being/natural-burial/
  7. Green Cemetery FAQs – Natural Path Sanctuary – https://naturalpathsanctuary.org/green-cemetery-faqs/
  8. Cemeteries as Regenerative Green Infrastructure – https://urbanresilience.medium.com/landscape-architects-can-help-rethink-cemeteries-3a264560afbc
  9. To help Earth’s future, people are getting buried like it’s 1860 – https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/03/28/green-burial-funeral-maryland-dc/
  10. Down to Earth – https://www.nwf.org/Magazines/National-Wildlife/2023/Spring/Conservation/Green-Burials
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  12. The case for natural burial – https://theecologist.org/2019/jan/14/case-natural-burial
  13. Green Burial Cost: Are Green Burials Cheaper? – https://www.thelivingurn.com/blogs/news/green-burial-cost-are-green-burials-cheaper
  14. A Guide to Green Burial Services and Cemeteries in Texas – https://www.us-funerals.com/a-guide-to-green-burial-services-and-cemeteries-in-texas/
  15. The Benefits of Green Funerals – MKSH – https://mksh.com/the-benefits-of-green-funerals/
  16. Demand is growing for more earth-friendly “green” burial choices – The Chestnut Hill Local – https://www.chestnuthilllocal.com/stories/green-burials-are-easier-on-the-earth,23498
  17. Going out ‘green.’ Demand grows for Florida funerals that preserve nature, cut pollution – https://www.wusf.org/environment/2023-04-22/going-out-green-demand-grows-for-florida-funerals-that-preserve-nature-cut-pollution
  18. Scrub Hub: What is a green burial? (Yes, it involves decomposing into the earth) – https://www.indystar.com/story/news/environment/2024/02/05/green-burials-grow-in-popularity-as-people-want-sustainable-options/72285564007/
  19. What It Means to Be Green – https://nfda.org/resources/business-technical/green-funeral-practices/what-it-means-to-be-green
  20. Welcome – https://www.greenburialcouncil.org/
  21. Comparing green funeral options, from composting to natural burial to water cremation – https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2023/01/31/green-funeral-options-cremation-burial/
  22. Green vs Natural Burials: What’s the Difference? – A Greener Funeral – https://www.agreenerfuneral.org/natural-and-green-burials-whats-the-difference/
  23. Green Burial Directory – https://www.us-funerals.com/green-burial-directory/
  24. Frequently Asked Questions — Larkspur Conservation: Tennessee’s Conservation and Natural Burial – https://larkspurconservation.org/frequently-asked-questions
  25. Green burials: The growing popularity of these eco-friendly options – https://www.fox5ny.com/news/green-burials-eco-friendly-options
  26. 5 Eco-Friendly Options for Your Body After Death – https://www.snyderlawpc.com/eco-friendly-burial-cremation-options-for-deceased/
  27. Guide to Arranging a Green Burial in Florida. – https://www.us-funerals.com/guide-to-arranging-a-green-burial-in-florida/
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  29. Why Conventional Burial Harms the Environment – Milton Fields – https://miltonfieldsgeorgia.com/conventional-burial-harms-environment/
  30. The Real Environmental Impact of Funeral Options Part 4: Green Burial – https://deathcurious.com/the-real-environmental-impact-green-burial/
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  32. No title found – https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/green-burials-can-change-our-relationship-with-death–and-help-the-earth/2021/12/16/85137994-5de5-11ec-bda6-25c1f558dd09_story.html
  33. What is a Natural Burial? Questions, Options & Info – https://www.memorialplanning.com/burial-types/natural-burials
  34. The Truth About Natural Burials – https://schillingfuneralhome.com/blogs/blog-entries/9/Blogs/192/The-Truth-About-Natural-Burials.html

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