How Do Green Cemeteries Work?

How Do Green Cemeteries Work?

February 28, 2022

When you think of a funeral service, you probably think of a body in a casket that’s eventually lowered into the ground. You probably think of this because it’s been a standard burial practice for hundreds of years in the Western world. But as climate change progresses, people in every industry are questioning how they can make their work more sustainable. This applies to professionals in the funeral industry, too.

Alternative and green burial options are growing in popularity every year. This could be something as common as cremation, but another option is a natural burial in a green cemetery. Not sure what these terms mean? Read on to learn more.

What is a green cemetery?

A green cemetery is any cemetery that has been approved by the Green Burial Council, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to providing reliable information on natural death and burial practices to death service providers and the public alike. In the U.S. and Canada, there are currently over 90 certified natural, conservation and hybrid cemeteries. But what are these? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Natural burial ground: A natural burial ground does not use burial containers or chemicals on the premises. Only containers made from natural materials are permitted, and even pesticides for landscaping are prohibited.
  • Conservation burial ground: In order to receive this designation, a cemetery must meet the requirements of a natural burial ground and it must be run by a nonprofit or government agency.
  • Hybrid burial ground: This is the most common type of green burial ground. It exists within a traditional cemetery that has a designated area for green burials alongside designated space for standard casket burials.

In order to receive this designation, it must meet and adhere to the Green Burial Council’s established guidelines for one of the above.

How do green cemeteries work?

There’s a good amount of variance in green cemetery practices and the specific green burial options they offer. Many green cemeteries operate within portions of traditional cemeteries, while others are built on their own land with very strict rules around how the land and bodies buried within it are treated. Within the variance, there are a few key principles generally adhered to across the board:

  • Natural container: Bodies buried in green cemeteries must be encased within a container made of a natural, untreated material like clay, wood or cardboard. Some cemeteries don’t allow any containers at all.
  • Chemicals: Since traditional embalming practices result in chemicals being released into the ground after burial, bodies buried in green cemeteries are not treated with chemicals.
  • Monuments and decorations: Elaborate headstones are typically not allowed in green cemeteries. Instead, a simple stone with the deceased’s name may be used—or perhaps no marker will be used at all. Decorations like wreaths, flowers or balloons are not allowed.

Every green cemetery handles things differently, so find one you like and make sure you clearly understand their specific regulations before choosing to bury your loved one there. Because green burial options may be seen as a significant deviation from tradition, it’s best to consult with all loved ones before proceeding in this direction. When you’re ready to move forward, contact Phillipsburg Memorial Company to find an appropriate memorial option for your loved one.

Categorised in: