Understanding Green, Natural Burials

Civil War Battle

Green, Natural Burial v/s the typical “American Way of Death”

For thousands of years, green, natural burial customs have been used to honor the dead and heal the living. The great religious traditions, which gave us our end-of-life rituals, have invited us to find solace in the fact that we are all connected to the same natural cycle of birth, death, decay, and rebirth. Then something happened.

Green, natural burials fell out of favor during the Civil War. That was when the Union Army, wanting to transport slain soldiers from the battlefields back home for burial developed a technique that involved the draining of a corpse’s blood and embalming it with a fluid made with arsenic for preservation.

The manufacturers of embalming fluid established some of the nation’s first mortuary schools, making embalming a cornerstone of the American way of death. Other products added to the movement including the steel coffin and the concrete burial vault.

Impact of Green, Natural Burial v/s Contemporary Burial 

Each year conventional funeral homes of America bury coffins, vaults, and embalming fluids, none of which are required by law in any state. “Death Care” in America has become a $20 billion industry—and a wasteful and toxic one at that. None of this happens with a green, natural burial.

Each year we bury:

  • Over 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, a known carcinogen according to the World Health Organization. This is enough to fill 8 Olympic-size pools.
  • More steel than was used to build the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • So much reinforced concrete that we could construct a two-lane highway from New York to Detroit.
  • Enough copper to wire 150 homes.

There are also all of the polluting fertilizers and pesticides that traditional cemeteries use to keep their lawns looking good.

Contemporary Burial
Ecological Costs of CremationsCremation Urns

Green, Natural Burial v/s the Ecological Costs of Cremations 

Cremation is an economical choice, but not as environmentally positive as one might think. The incineration process uses a tremendous amount of energy and emits toxins which then must be dealt with. Cremation also destroys the wonderful nutrients the body contains that could otherwise be given back to the earth.

Many people think cremation is better. (Actually, it isn’t!) The rate of cremation has risen to over 55% over the last 40 years, mostly as a cost incentive.

  • Each cremation releases between .8 and 5.9 grams of mercury as bodies are burned.  This amounts to between 1,000 and 7,800 pounds of mercury released each year in the U.S.  75% goes into the air and the rest settles into the ground and water.
  • You could drive about 4,800 miles on the energy equivalent of the energy used to cremate just 1 person.  From all the cremations in the US in just one year, that’s enough fuel to take you to the moon and back 85 times.
  • Cremation removes the body from the cycle of nature, keeping it from nourishing new life

The Choice for Natural Burial

Supports natural renewal and growth. It’s a way to give back to the earth. It’s death nourishing new life!

Green, Natural Burial reunites your body with the earth while nurturing and renewing the land.

Green, Natural Burial 

Green, natural burial is a safe and legal burial practice that uses biodegradable containers and avoids embalming fluids and vaults.

Not only does green burial help protect land, the land is made verdant by the burials, bringing families and friends closer to nature in the commemoration of their loved one’s life. The green burial ground is a sacred, hallowed ground. 

Green burial costs less and has a tremendously positive environmental impact.  Unlike burial in a conventional cemetery, natural burial avoids introducing pollutants to the environment. A natural cemetery eliminates the harmful environmental impacts caused by conventional burial.  A natural cemetery, like Countryside Memorial Park, goes a step further to restore and preserve land with a perpetual conservation easement.  The conservation easement legally protects the land from all future development beyond that of burials and cemetery operations. It preserves natural spaces, important not only to plants and wildlife, but where people may find the serenity of being close to nature.

Burial in a beautiful and natural setting leaves a legacy of land conservation in honor of those we love.

Advantages of a Green Burial

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Advantages of a Green, Natural Burial

Simplicity: Wrapping the body in a shroud or placing it in a biodegradable coffin appeals to those who prefer to be simple, loving and natural.​

Lower Cost:  Green, Natural burials don’t involve embalming, fancy caskets, or concrete vaults. They don’t involve expensive cemeteries either.

Conserves Natural Resources:  No fuel, concrete, steel, or copper is used. Ever. ​

Eliminates use of hazardous chemicals:  No toxic embalming formaldehyde is used. Ever.

Preserves natural areas: Love of nature and a desire for a place in a forever wild area is a main reason for choosing green burial. Natural burials nourish native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, birds, bees, and all of nature.

Green burial offers: The ability to participate in the Sacred Cycle of Life and Death. 

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