As a green burial advocate and consultant, I make sure that families are aware of this option for final body disposition.
Green burial is an environmentally sound option that returns the body to the Earth in a natural, simple, and dignified way. A green burial uses biodegradable caskets or shrouds, without embalming or concrete vaults.
For a burial to be considered green, then, it must meet three requirements set by The Green Burial Council: the body cannot be preserved with traditional embalming fluid, man-made vaults are prohibited, and only biodegradable burial containers or shrouds can be used.
Grave markers are often native plantings or indigenous stones. The land remains in a natural state because there is no extensive landscaping, lawn fertilizer, or pesticide use. Green burial allows native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers to grow, which in turn bring birds and wildlife to the area.
By choosing green burial you could be saving:
- 3-4 gallons of embalming fluid
- 200 pounds of steel
- 200 board feet of hardwood
- 2000 pounds of concrete
- 20-25 gallons of natural gas
- 250 pounds of carbon dioxide, mercury, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid
In North Carolina, there are seven cemeteries which allow for green burial. A hybrid cemetery is a conventional cemetery offering the option for burial without the need for a vault (partial, inverted or otherwise), a vault lid, concrete box, slab or partitioned liner. Hybrid Burial Grounds shall not require the embalming of decedents and must allow for any kind of eco-friendly burial containers including shrouds. A natural cemetery requires the adoption of practices/protocols that are energy-conserving, minimize waste, and do not require the use of toxic chemicals. A Natural Burial Ground achieves Green Burial Council certification by prohibiting the use of vaults (partial, inverted or otherwise), vault lids, concrete boxes, slabs or partitioned liners, and by prohibiting the burial of decedents embalmed with toxic chemicals, as well as by banning burial containers not made from natural/plant derived materials. It must have in place a program of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and be designed, operated and maintained to produce a naturalistic appearance, based on use of plants and materials native to the region, and patterns of landscape derived from and compatible with regional ecosystems. A conservation burial ground, in addition to meeting all the requirements for a Natural Burial Ground, must further legitimate land conservation. It must protect in perpetuity an area of land specifically and exclusively designated for conservation. A Conservation Burial Ground must involve an established conservation organization that holds a conservation easement or has in place a deed restriction guaranteeing long-term stewardship.
- Historic Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh (hybrid)
- Highland Meadow, Fayetteville (hybrid)
- Pine Forest, Wake Forest (natural)
- Forest Lawn, Candler (hybrid)
- Green Hills Cemetery, Asheville (hybrid)
- Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, Mills River (conservation burial ground)
- Church of the Burrow, Moncure (private)
What I can do to help
I help families make connections where necessary so that they are able to choose this method of body disposition if they desire.
I’m available to speak to small and large groups about green burial and home funerals. (for a nominal travel fee)
Please contact me for a free initial consultation. I charge $100 an hour for consultation services, but I will not turn anyone away regardless of ability to pay. Most families find that I can help them in just an hour or two…or even enough during the free initial consultation.