What is a Green Burial?

What is a Green Burial?


Updated on 11/16/2020

Green burials have grown in popularity in recent years as more people seek earth-friendly alternatives for final disposition of cremated remains.

What is a Green Burial?

Green burials are environmentally friendly burials, using biodegradable materials that naturally dissolve into the soil over time. This allows the body to return to the soil without the addition of potentially harmful embalming chemicals.green stat

You can select a cremation without embalming and use a biodegradable urn.  This honors your loved one's commitment to a better natural world. It will also decrease your impact on the environment now and for the future.

Green burials are often associated with interment of whole remains. Cremated remains may also be disposed of in a eco-friendly manner using a broad variety of biodegradable urns.

Many people believe green burials are the way nature intended for final disposition of remains. It allows them to be gently recycled into the soil, ultimately fostering the growth of new life.

What is the History of Green Burials?

The history of green burials is as old as mankind. Before embalming fluids, bodies were laid to rest in the soil to gradually decompose over time nurturing the soil and all living things.

egyptIn fact, until relatively recent times, green burials was the most common burial in the world. Except for the ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilizations and some other cultures that relied on mummification to preserve prominent members of their societies. Even in these cultures, green burials were used for the vast majority of people.

During the Renaissance, scientific researchers began studying forms of embalming as a way to preserve organs for autopsy.  It was not until the nineteenth century that embalming became more popular. Families sought ways to preserve bodies of loved ones who died far from home.  Embalming was used simply as a way to preserve the body for transport back to the deceased's home for final interment.

Over time, embalming became the “norm” in many societies including the U.S. Many communities required embalming which was believed to prevent the spread of certain diseases after death, especially when viewing periods were prolonged.

Green burials have enjoyed a rise in popularity during the past half century. People want to reconnect with the earth and decrease their impact on the environment.

What is a Modern Green Burial Ceremony Look Like?

Modern green burial ceremonies are very similar to a traditional burial service but have the flexibility for you to opt out of it. It can be completely suited to the person who’s passed and the needs of you and your family.

The first step you should take is to find a cemetery that meets your needs. green cemeteryGreen Burial Council offers an interactive map to find a green burial cemetery, products, as well as funeral homes.

Once you’ve done that. You can decide what you’d like to add to a Green Burial service. You may be able to provide flower seeds for attendees to spread on top of the site once the urn is interred. Some people use candles or release doves or butterflies during the ceremony.

Instead of flowers, ask friends and family to donate to nature charities or to provide bags of pet food to local animal shelters. Some green burial sites offer opportunities for donations to fund tree plantings, birdhouses or benches.

What are Urns for Green Burials?

bio urnWhen selecting an urn for a green burial, obviously the first requirement is that it be biodegradable. Today, there are many biodegradable urns available.

Natural urns come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They incorporate features that reflect the deceased's own personal interests or reflect a nature theme.

There are box and pillow designs composed of 100 percent biodegradable materials. There are urns made of sweet grass and palm.  Small pod-shaped urns allow more than one person to be involved in placing the remains in the earth. Keepsake cremation urns allow you to memorialize your loved one for generations to come.

Containers designed for green burial are uniquely crafted to be as kind to the earth as possible. Minimizing the impact on the environment and avoiding the costs associated with embalming and traditional caskets.

Honoring Your Loved One

Green burials are about more than saving money. It allows your loved one to embrace the earth that serves in a meaningful long lasting way. No higher tribute than enabling them to give back to the earth as a last gesture of their deep love for nature.


Thu, 04/12/2018 - 16:50

Interested in more information,regarding green funerals and could VA burials,allow green burials?

Mon, 01/11/2016 - 19:40

Wow, I had never heard of green burials before reading. It is definitely an interesting concept, and I appreciate the use of biodegradable materials in order to lessen the impact on the environment. It's fascinating that green burials are only reemerging now, after being used for centuries before the advent of embalming fluids. Thanks so much for writing!

Rick Fraser
Mon, 04/09/2018 - 18:00

Hello Marge, you can definitely place cremains into the ocean. Usually it is best if the remains are placed inside of a biodegradable friendly urn first, which you can find HERE. I would suggest also reading over the regulations for ocean burial as well which you can find HERE. Hopefully this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions.

Susan Fraser

Sun, 04/08/2018 - 23:33

Can ones ashes be placed into the ocean as that was the wish of the deceased.

Rick Fraser
Mon, 04/16/2018 - 23:43

Hello Maryann, yes, green burials are possible in VA. What part of VA do you live? Green burial is a growing trend since it is more environmentally friendly, what exactly would you like to know in regards to green burial? Green cremation is growing in popularity as well, you may also want to check out our post on Alkaline Hydrolysis, which explains a more environmentally friendly cremation option as well.

Write A Comment