Green burial is a way of caring for the dead with a minimal environmental impact that can aid in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat.
Natural burial is the interment of the body of a dead person in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition but allows the body to be naturally recycled. The remains are directly placed into the earth with minimal impact on the environment. Graves are dug by hand and it is a great alternative to other contemporary Western burial methods and funerary customs.
Conventional burial takes place in a traditional cemetery that requires a grave liner and a vault or outer burial container (as cemetery policy, not as a legal requirement). Usually, the body must be chemically embalmed. The required use of a grave liner is usually for landscaping concerns. The landscaping itself may be resource intensive, include high water usage for non-native vegetation, and involve chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Below are 10 particularly beautiful cemeteries that offer green, natural and hybrid burials in no particular order:
Green Burial Sites:
Neptune Memorial Reef is located 3.25 miles east of Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida. Neptune Memorial Reef™ is the largest man-made reef ever designed and, when complete, will have transformed over 16 acres of the barren ocean floor. Neptune reef represents a creative spin on the Lost City of Atlantis, 40 feet under the sea. The Department of Environmental Resource Management conducted a study demonstrating that marine life went from zero to thousands within two years. Consequently, the structure in place has helped marine life blossom, while offering a green, underwater burial for the public.
Forest Home Cemetry is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This cemetery, founded in 1850, has been in business for over 100 years. It is modeled after the Victorian era with a garden-style theme full of beautiful natural landscapes, crafty planting, exquisite monuments, and arched roadways. This view was created to admire the beauty of nature while alleviating the grieving process for families.
Moles Greenacres Memorial Park has multiple locations in Washington State such as Ferndale, Bellingham, and Greenacres. Over the years, Greenacres has constantly been renovated, adding additions that made it the first combination of a funeral home and cemetery north of Everett. Most recently, as of 2008 and 2010, they opened two new sites, “Stillwaters Botanical Cremation Garden” and “The Meadow”, a natural burial site, that promotes an eco-friendly alternative for their guests.
Natural Burial Sites:
Cool Spring Natural Cemetery at Holy Cross Abbey is located in Berryville, Virginia. Cool Spring Natural Cemetery is maintained and managed by the Cistercian monks of Holy Cross Abbey. These monks value and appreciate the land intensely, respecting the lay of the land and how it aligns with their monastic lifestyle. In addition, choosing to be buried on this sacred land represents the immense dignity and admiration for life and nature.
Colorado Burial Cemetery is located in Florence, Colorado. This burial preserve is a Green Burial Council-certified Natural Burial Ground. The main priority of this cemetery is dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the land. Throughout history, burying the dead has served as a way to respect and honor the deceased; therefore, returning to the earth is a meaningful way to leave a smaller footprint and give something back to the Earth.
Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary is the first and only dedicated natural burial ground in the Cincinnati area. The purpose is to preserve the land while offering a way for the public to enjoy the wonders of nature. This sanctuary offers educational and recreational activities for their community to gain awareness and knowledge about the many benefits of having a natural burial.
Eloise Woods Natural Burial Park is located in Austin, Texas. This natural burial park offers green and natural sites that are environmentally friendly and removes the toxic chemicals involved in a traditional burial; as a result, at Eloise Woods, there is no embalming of the body, metal caskets, or concrete grave liners. Instead, the process is wrapping bodies in shrouds or any biodegradable containers and they are placed directly into the ground. Ashes to Ashes; dust to dust. The body will return to earth through a natural yet alluring, green approach to burial.
Conventional & Hybrid Cemeteries:
Bonaventure Cemetery is located in Savannah, Georgia. In 1992, the Bonaventure Historical Society was founded by a retired Savannah school teacher and several of his friends. Their mission has always been the preservation and conservation of Savannah’s historic Bonaventure Cemetery. Originally this cemetery was privately owned and named Evergreen Cemetery in 1846, holding 14.3 acres, however modern day, this cemetery has over 100 acres full of charm and antiquity.
Lake View Cemetery is located in Cleveland, Ohio. Lake View has over 285 acres of land and is one of the largest and most scenic cemeteries in the United States. It was founded in 1869 by the leading pioneers of Cleveland and modeled after the Edwardian and Victorian garden cemeteries of England and France. The Lake View Cemetery Foundation was created to ensure the upkeep of the historic building, monuments, and garden so that future generations can enjoy the magnificent landscape.
Graceland Cemetery is located in Chicago, Illinois. Graceland Cemetery has been around for over 150 years and holds a significant historical background. Throughout time, Graceland Cemetery has served as a final resting place for many prominent figures throughout history, including famous athletes, politicians, industrialists, and many of the finest architects of the last century. In addition, O.C. Simonds, a well-known architect, was one of the leading visionaries that designed this cemetery to show a glimpse into the past, while simultaneously visualizing a greater future.