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Natural Burials- Back to Our Roots

A natural burial, or green burial is the practice of burial with as little environmental impact as possible. Natural burials often forgo embalming or cremation, caskets, and vaults. As one cemetery official from Maple Grove Cemetery in Granville, OH put it “It’s the old-fashioned, old-timey burial process.” This practice is not new, in fact, prior to the invention of modern embalming, it was the norm. Today, as people’s concern for the environment grows, the popularity of natural burials does as well. Below, we will look at some reasons to choose natural burial and what that entails.

Why Choose a Natural Burial?

As mentioned above, many people are beginning to evaluate their lasting effect on the environment, all the way through death. In simplest form, a natural burial includes no preparation of the body, just burial in a natural setting, limiting one’s carbon footprint. The push for natural burials has increased today for several reasons.

1. Simplicity- There are no fancy caskets or vaults involved in natural burials. Often, the deceased is shrouded or placed in an unembellished basket-like casket. This minimalism is appealing to many, not just those with environmental concerns.

2. Cost Efficient- In most cases, removing the need for embalming, a casket and a vault will greatly lower the financial responsibility of the family.

3. Preservation of Lands- Natural burial sites are usually filled with native vegetation and allow wildlife to roam freely. Certified “Green Burial” locations also limit the use of non-natural herbicides and pesticides, further protecting them. For those with a passion for conservation, this can be a final act in helping natural habitats.

4. Eliminating Use of Chemicals- Some are drawn to the natural burial movement because it does not allow embalming, and therefore eliminates the need for chemical preservation.

5. Religious Traditions- Religious traditions, such as those of the Muslim and Jewish faith, require burial to take place as fast as reasonably possible and without modern preparation. In both cases, the deceased is buried in a shroud or natural wooden casket with no metal adornments, closely resembling natural burial processes.

Where Can I Be Buried?

Unlike traditional burials, natural burial options are limited in many states. Though there are no state laws against natural burials, many cemeteries have their own rules and regulations. However, more and more cemeteries are opening natural burial sections on their property or working to set aside conservation property in other areas for burial purposes.

Currently, in New York State, there are at least sixteen different natural burial locations, ranging from the Hudson Valley to Northern New York. Their degree of “green” varies, as some are registered with The Green Burial Council, a non-profit organization whose mission is “to inspire and advocate for environmentally sustainable, natural death care through education and certification”.

How Do I Choose a Funeral Home or Natural Burial?

Just as with traditional burial or cremation options, any funeral home can assist you with a natural burial. What is most important is finding a funeral home that best fits your needs. Asking questions about embalming practices, natural burial products offered, and other environmental measures will help you determine if they’re the best fit for you.

More and more, people are becoming concerned with their lasting environmental impact. Natural burial is becoming a more popular choice among environmentalists, conservationist and everyday people who want to diminish their “carbon footprint”. There are many options for burial, be it traditional, natural, or a combination of both. By reaching out to your funeral professional, you are sure to find what is the right goodbye for you.



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