Everything You Need to Know About Eco-Friendly Burials

Green sprout growing from seed.

As we journey through life, we often make conscious choices to protect and sustain the environment around us. But have you ever paused to ponder the environmental impact of your final resting place? The truth is, conventional burial methods may leave more than just emotional imprints on our planet; they leave a physical one too.

Embalming fluid, nonbiodegradable caskets, the steel and concrete used for burial vaults and the carbon dioxide emitted from cremations negatively affect the earth. If you want to continue to protect the environment even after death, earth-friendly burial options that are designed to minimize environmental harm include green burials and human composting.

What is a green burial?

A green burial involves burying an unembalmed body in a biodegradable casket or shroud in a designated green burial cemetery. This process allows the body to decompose and return to the soil naturally.

Green burial sites often double as nature reserves or conservation areas that contribute to the natural eco-cycle. Other benefits of green burials include:

  • Conserving resources
  • Minimizing land usage
  • Minimizing the release of harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater
  • Less expensive than traditional burials
  • Protecting and restoring wildlife habitat
  • Integrates sustainable native plant communities

For more information, Contact the Green Burial Council to find certified green burial cemeteries in your area.

What is human composting?

Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction, transforms human remains into nutrient-dense soil.

The body is placed in a closed, reusable vessel with biodegradable materials such as wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. The process takes two to three months before the soil is ready. This nutrient-rich soil can then be used to nourish trees, plants, flowers, and other natural environments.

Some people enlist the help of companies like Recompose for human composting. Some use their loved one’s soil for trees and rose gardens or to scatter in a designated area.

The cost of green burials and human composting

In addition to the adverse environmental effects, conventional funerals and cremation services can be more expensive than green burials and human composting. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the national median cost of a funeral and burial in the United States is almost $8,000, and $7,000 for cremation.

The cost of a green burial will vary depending on the state and type of burial site. However, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $4,000 for a green burial in a green burial cemetery. In contrast, human composting costs between $5,000 and $7,000. 

State regulations

Green burials are legal in all 50 states. However, rules and regulations and rules vary by state.

Interest in human composting is growing, but it’s currently legal in only six states: California, Colorado, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Several other states have introduced legislation to legalize human composting. Here in Massachusetts, Bill H.4036, if passed, would legalize environmentally friendly burial alternatives such as human composting.

At LifeCare Advocates, we are available to help you plan and formalize your own end-of-life decisions or those of your loved one. Please contact us to learn more about our services.