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What is a Green Burial?

As more Americans have become environmentally conscious, green burial has become a growing trend. Through traditional burial, it’s estimated that every year in the U.S. alone, we bury the equivalent of 4 million acres of forest in casket wood and 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde, a toxic chemical that can then get absorbed into the earth, air and water. Even cremation, which is generally considered to be more environmentally friendly, uses the same amount of energy as a 500-mile car trip each time.

What is the definition of a green burial?

The Green Burial Council lays out a set of criteria for the certification of funeral homes, cemeteries and products. While there are various levels of certification, the key criteria revolve around the following things:

  • The body either hasn’t been embalmed or has been embalmed with fluids approved by the Green Burial Council.
  • The body has been buried in a container or shroud that is made only of natural, biodegradable materials and without a concrete or metal vault.
  • The cemetery restricts the types, sizes, and visibility of memorial markers to preserve natural views and focuses on cultivating native plants.

Where can I find a green burial site?

There are now more than 300 green burial sites in the U.S. and Canada (up from just 1 in 2006!). On Ever Loved, you can find the comprehensive list of certified funeral homes and cemeteries.

How common is green burial?

While green burials are a small percentage of overall burials currently, interest is growing rapidly. In 2015, almost two thirds of adults over 40 said they would be interested in green funeral options, compared with only 43% in 2010, according to a study by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council.

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Last updated December 14, 2018
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