Natural, aka green burials are becoming popular with environmentalists who want to be buried without the chemicals or metal coffins.
In regular burials, bodies are embalmed and preserved with chemicals. They are then placed in non-biodegradable coffins lined with cloth.
“This is more than just dig a hole in the woods and roll them in. We see it as a natural return to the Earth, becoming part of the circle of life, completing the circle of life,” said Mary Woodsen, a science writer, lifelong conservationist and the cemetery’s president.
“It’s a niche market. Not everyone will find this appealing,” she said. “But there are people who want that look and feel of nature.”
With green burials, such as those at the new Greensprings Cemetery in New York:
- Bodies can’t be embalmed or chemically preserved.
- Caskets must be biodegradable. No metal, concrete, plastic, or other synthetic materials are permitted.
- Only flat, natural grave markers are allowed – no standing monuments, statues, or upright tombstones. Shrubs or trees are preferred.
- only one person per 15ft by 15ft plot.
Green burials have become popular recently in the UK where they make up about 10% of all burials. They are a relatively new phenomenon in the US, but one that has economic benefits as well as environmental.
A plot at Greensprings costs $500 plus a $350 fee to dig the grave. A simple pine casket at casketfurniture.com will run you about $900. Contrast that with the average US funeral costs at about $6000, and you’re looking to save thousands of dollars.
Besides New York, there are green cemeteries in South Carolina, Florida, Texas, California and Washington state.