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What is a Green Cemetery?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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A green cemetery is a cemetery which promotes ecologically friendly burial practices. You may hear a green cemetery referred to as an ecocemetery, green burial ground, or a natural cemetery. Green cemeteries can be found in many regions of the world. Many cemeteries in developing nations are green by default, due to cultural traditions surrounding burial, and a growing green cemetery movement emerged in the developed world in the late 20th century, when people began to be increasingly concerned about the health of the environment.

The offerings at a green cemetery vary, depending on how the cemetery is organized. For example, some green cemeteries offer relatively conventional burial in plots with ordinary headstones, while others promote natural burial in areas which are left unlandscaped, with the use of trees, rocks, and other natural artifacts as markers. Some green cemeteries are also attached to crematories, for people who do not wish to be buried, while others may offer burial at sea and other funeral options. Many encourage family involvement in the planning of the funeral, although they may have a funeral director on hand to assist with arrangements.

In a burial at a green cemetery, the goal is usually to encourage the body to break down naturally and quickly. Many green cemeteries ban embalmed bodies, due to concerns about the toxicity of the chemicals used in embalming. People may be buried in plain wooden, peat, wicker, or cardboard coffins which are designed to break down quickly, or in shrouds made from natural materials. If dressed, the dead are also usually dressed in natural fibers which will break down along with the body.

Some green cemeteries address issues of specific religious faiths, with consecrated ground for people who want to be buried in a natural way while still adhering to their religious beliefs. Many religions are very amenable to green burial: Judaism, for example, counsels burying within a day in a plain coffin. Usually, people can arrange to have a religious officiant present at a green burial of a relative, either bringing someone from their own place of worship, or making arrangements with the cemetery.

People can also organize their own funerals in any way they like at many green cemeteries. Family members may be encouraged to get involved with the selection and preparation of a grave site, and people are often encouraged to plant flowers over the grave, and to visit to help with cemetery upkeep. Green cemeteries are often in very pleasant locations, making them pleasant places to visit.

Green cemeteries in your area can be found by searching for “green cemetery” and your region, or through the assistance of a funeral consumers alliance. In addition to being ecologically friendly, you may also find that natural burial is economically friendly, as green cemeteries typically keep their prices low and discourage costly practices like the use of fancy coffins and burial vaults.

InfoBloom is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By golf07 — On Jun 29, 2011

When were visiting our family homestead and cemetery plots, there were several unmarked graves that were along the edge of a field. These burials were probably green burials, even though this term would have been unheard of at the time.

These were probably done out of necessity because there were no other options available for them. I am sure there are many more of them than what many people realize. I can see how many people would find comfort in this type of burial as opposed to a traditional burial or cremation.

By myharley — On Jun 28, 2011

I have never heard of a green cemetery before reading this article. I find this concept very interesting from both a environmental and a financial concept.

With the green trend that is affecting many aspects of our lives, having green burials goes right along with that thinking. The cost of having someone buried is very expensive and there seem to be some advantages to this that would help lessen the financial burden.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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