Green or natural burial is a simple return of the body to the earth in a biodegradable casket or shroud, without chemical embalming. This is how we used to bury our dead up until the latter half of the nineteenth century and, now, in the twenty-first century, it is gaining in popularity. Our natural funeral staff can help you plan your green burial.
Green burial leaves the smallest carbon footprint at death (using fewer resources and with less environmental impact than either cremation or conventional burial.)
The Green Burial Council, a national non-profit organization, certifies three types of green burial grounds. In summary, these are:
Hybrid Burial Grounds are conventional cemeteries, which offer the option of no vault or graveliner (cement, fiberglass, or plastic grave covering to prevent ground sinkage and allow lawn mowing), no chemical embalming of the body, and the possibility of burial in a biodegradable casket or shroud. These are an option in Colorado. Ask us for details.
Natural Burial Grounds have adopted practices and protocols for conserving energy, minimizing waste, and prohibiting the use of toxic chemicals (embalming). All containers for the body must be biodegradable, and landscaping practices promote native vegetation. These are an option in Colorado. Ask us for details.
Conservation Burial Grounds meet the standards of “natural burial grounds”, but also conserve land and often restore native habitat. These do not currently exist in Colorado.
Here is a link to a video about green burial from the Green Burial Council website.
Green Burial FAQs
1. What is the environmental impact of conventional burial?
Each year, in US cemeteries, we bury:
- Around 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde-based embalming fluid
- Around 1,000 tons of casket steel
- Around 200,000 tons of concrete in burial vaults
- Enough wood to build 40 homes.
2. Is it possible to bury on private land in Colorado?
Yes, but it depends where you live. You should check the zoning regulations in your county to determine what is possible. Colorado also has protocols and forms for burial on private land. Contact The Natural Funeral for information and advice.
3. Is green burial cheaper than conventional burial?
Sometimes green burial is cheaper because you will not need to purchase a vault or an expensive casket, but the cost of the plot may vary. Some private cemeteries with green sections may sell green burial plots at a premium. Municipal cemeteries often offer green burial plots that are less expensive.
4. Can families participate with green burial?
Green burial lends itself to direct and meaningful connection with your loved-one at death through graveside participation and ceremony. Families may sometimes act as pallbearers, or add small amounts of earth to the grave. What is allowed will depend on each cemetery’s regulations.
5. What markers are allowed at green burial cemeteries?
This will depend on the type of cemetery and the cemetery’s regulations. Some natural burial grounds may allow only flat, on-the-ground markers of natural material such as stone.