Green Burials are here



For the past 4 years of so since I’ve been putting pen to paper writing Funeral Director Daily as I do my research I invariably come across articles on Green Burials.  Green Burials by my definition are “ecology based earth burials with as simple a disposition process that can be done”.   They would include no embalming, wicker-type caskets, no vaults, and graves dug by hand.


Our funeral home has not really embraced the process, nor do we seem to have client families asking for it.  However, as I’m finding as I do my Funeral Director Daily research, there are areas of the country where it is really catching on.  I decided to write this article on a day when I found two newspaper articles from as divergent places as Florida and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts telling of their growing popularity.


It reminds me of the old argument of “Trend vs. Fad”.  Now, the Pet Rock or the Slinky as toys from our youth were fads.  But the role of cremation as a form of final disposition in the United States turned into a trend which has morped into a societal more’.  Cremation only happened in about 3.6% of deaths in 1960 but will soon hit 70% nationwide.  Nobody predicted that.

What about Green Funerals?  Trend, Fad, or Cultural more’ to come?  This article from the Miami Herald follows a Green burial with photos and other information.  The disposition takes place at the Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery outside of Gainesville, Florida.  What surprised me in reading the article is that there is already almost 1,000 people buried there. . . .and if you do the math with the numbers given in the article, it comes to about 6 burials per month.


Now, I’m not one who is falling over and shouting the praises of the green movement in society.  But like almost everybody else, if I can preserve the planet in some way with my choices I try to do that  — for instance, I recycle.  I’m not driving an electric car or putting solar panels on my house just yet, but if you can convince me of the cost practicality and the environmental practicality, it might be something I would look at.


And, I would guess that death care consumers will have that same viewpoint as we move forward.  When “Green” becomes practical I think we will see more of it. . . . It is like everything else in America — when we can find a profit point and suppliers can find a profit point, we will have more resources to help us manage the execution of Green burials.  Suppliers could eventually include grave diggers who dig by hand or someone with a horse drawn caisson.


Having suppliers who can help funeral directors execute these types of services will go a long way in the growth of the method.  Suppliers helping funeral directors with execution evolved over time.  For instance, about 60 years ago in our area, the Wilbert people made it as simple as a phone call. . .and that supplier simplicity made replacing the “rough box” with a vault a new tradition in earth burials.  That day will come for Green funeral suppliers when they are convinced of the profitability of such.


In any regard, we are not going to be inundated with Green burial requests today, but I think that history will tell us that these types of ceremonies will ramp up and may become a larger portion of our businesses.  My take is it is best to be ready when that starts happening.


Related:  Here is the article from the Martha’s Vineyard Time about Green burials.

Related ArticleNatural burials were illegal in Vermont.  Now they’re having a resurgence.  Print article with radio voice.  WBUR Public Radio.  (MA)

Related Article:  Green burials:  The growing appeal of new earth-concsious interment.  Print article with radio voice.  WYPR Ppublic Radio (MD)


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  1. Amy Cunningham on May 2, 2023 at 7:30 am

    Great advice, Tom! All I can say is that natural burial is working really well for me, and that there’s been a notable spike in natural burial business in recent months. Selecting the earth-friendliest products, being outdoors in the open air, sometimes driving away from the city to where grave space is less expensive, always proves to be a good experience for the grieving family, and meaningful “experiences” are what nearly everyone is after these days.

  2. Dean Fisher on May 2, 2023 at 6:25 am

    As we continue to live longer our bodies become biohazards- hip & knee implants, polycarbons from plastic surgery, botox, hernia mesh, chemo-therapy, radiation, and pacemaker batteries-
    Lets not forget about the dentist and mercury fillings-
    When we put these into the ground it leaches into our ground water, and it does much faster than with a casket and vault, so just how green is this technology?
    Burning these medical and dental implants puts them in the air instead of the ground, so that really isn’t an answer either.
    In a couple hundred years Archaeologists will be tracing the serial numbers on these devices back to our loved ones.

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