Natural (Green) Burial

Green, or natural burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat. Green burial necessitates the use of non-toxic and biodegradable materials, such as caskets, shrouds, and urns.

What does it mean to be Green Burial Council certified?

GBC certification allows consumers to be able to distinguish between the three levels of green burial ground and understand that each has a different set of standards. It requires cemetery operators commit to a certain degree of transparency, accountability and third party oversight. And it prevents future owners from going back on whatever ecological or aesthetic promises have been made in the past — from limitations on burial density that protect a local ecosystem to prohibitions against the use of monuments that would negatively impact a viewshed.

Natural versus Green Burial

The terms natural burial and green burial are often used interchangeably. Although they are similar, they are actually two different types of burial option. “Natural burial” strictly refers to the actually burial process. This means the opening and closing of the grave, the preparation of the remains, and the laying of those remains in the burial plot. “Green burial” refers to this process but also to the cemetery in which the burial takes place. A “green cemetery” uses no artificial pesticides and none of the bodies buried in a green cemetery can have been embalmed or buried in a traditional casket.

Natural Burial Options

In terms of different burial products, such as headstones, burial flowers, and memorial benches, there are slight differences compared to more traditional burial options. While headstones are used for natural burials, they are actually quite different than a traditional burial headstone. Natural burial headstones are usually a simple stone with a simple bronze plaque.

Certain elements like embalming fluid and vaults are prohibited, but there are also certain natural burial options that you won’t necessarily get with a traditional burial. For instance, natural burials allow you to grow flowers and other plants directly on the gravesite. Depending on your final resting place, there may also be some different rules and regulations for a natural burial. In these cases, it’s best to consult the cemetery directly to learn about the rules in your state.

What is the cost of a Natural Burial?

Generally speaking, the cost of a natural burial does not differ greatly from a traditional burial. While a hand-dug grave is more expensive than a machine-dug grave, the lack of a burial vault and embalming usually means that the prices even out. As an example, a natural burial in Illinois will cost roughly $5,500 for all services and products.