Information About Green Burials

By: Ian Elliott
Thursday, January 14, 2016

For centuries, we have taken care of our dead through burial. Although cremation is a popular alternative, 

burial remains the most common form of disposition. As we become more aware of and sensitive to the 

world around us, we are beginning to turn to more environmental friendly burials. If you are 

environmentally conscious, you may consider a green burial. Very few people know that it is an option, 

but when it is offered to them, there is often a great deal of interest. Phil Crawford, vice president of the 

Morley Bedford Funeral Home, in Toronto describes the typical thought process thusly: “They think, 

‘Wow, that’s the way I lived. I was responsible in my lifetime, I recycled. I’ll do that in death as well.’”
 

What is a green burial?

As the name suggests, a green burial is an environmentally friendly burial. Some of the ways they are 

considered green is the use of biodegradable coffins, forgoing embalming or choosing pesticide-free 

cemeteries to be interred in. The idea is quite simple. For centuries, or longer, people buried bodies as 

simply as possible, often even without a coffin. The body is a natural thing, so there is no logical reason 

not to let it return naturally to the earth. A green burial uses either shrouds or fully biodegradable caskets 

made of willow, sea grass, bamboo or other easily biodegradable or replaceable materials. If the body is 

embalmed, they do not use formaldehyde based chemicals. Instead a green embalming fluid is used which 

causes no harm to the earth and allows for viewing of the decedent. Headstones are almost non-existent, 

with native rocks and native plants used as markers instead.


According to the American Green Burial Council, the U.S. has 49 green cemeteries, while the U.K. has 

300, many of which are separate from traditional cemeteries. In British Columbia there are currently only 

2 cemeteries open to the public that provide for green burial. Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria is the 

only true green burial cemetery. Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver does a hybrid green burial. 

Mountain View is referred to as a hybrid only because the grounds are maintained and a standard grave 

maker is used. Royal Oak has a garden that is truly green. The garden is left in its natural state. Both 

cemeteries allow for just the body to be buried in a shroud, if the use of a green casket is not desired.


How to have a green burial

To start, you should use an all wood casket without metal hardware (most caskets typically use brass), 

that comes with a natural, biodegradable interior and bedding. Alternatively, request a biodegradable 

shroud. Use non-toxic, organic embalming fluid, or insist on none at all. One downside is that this may 

limit the viewing period because embalming with formaldehyde based chemicals slows the break down of 

the body.  Ask about using an indigenous rock or planting a shrub as a marker. If you would prefer 

cremation a biodegradable urn may be used. Finally, instead of flowers, request a donation to a land 

conservation organization.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Can I Supply My Own Container For Cremated Remains?

Following cremation, the ashes are usually placed in a temporary urn. To hold the remains, crematories typically use rigid cardboard containers lined with heavy-duty plastic bags. Cremated remains ...

Sending Flowers To The Bereaved

The homes of those in mourning traditionally receive sympathy flowers from family and friends. People also send flowers to funerals as a mark of respect to the departed soul. It can be challenging ...

Cremation Vs. Burial Costs | Funeral Homes in Surrey BC

Although cremation has been available for centuries, it is still a relatively uncommon funeral choice in the U. S. as an alternative to traditional funerals. Cremation piques people's interest prim...

What Are Basic Cremation Services?

If you've never had to arrange a funeral ceremony before, you might not have thought about the numerous cremation services offered. If all of your relatives choose burial, you might not have any pr...

Care Essentials While Grieving The Loss Of A Loved One

Dealing with the loss and grief of the death of someone close to you can be difficult. Grief is an individual journey that each person must take on their terms. We at Arbutus Funeral Service unders...

Can I Have A Gathering/Visitation Without A Ceremony/Service?

If a family member or close friend has passed away, you need to start thinking about making arrangements for the funeral services. Death is inevitable, but perhaps you've never had to cope with the...

Are All Caskets The Same Size?

Several clients of Arbutus Funeral Service have questions regarding the dimensions of caskets and are curious to know whether or not they are all identical in size. Caskets are available in varying...

Ambiguous Grief and How to Deal With It

A wide range of emotions and circumstances can contribute to a person's feeling of ambiguous grief. Those who have lost a loved one are the ones who suffer the most apparent symptoms of grief. Ther...

5 Advantages of Urn Vaults

Following cremation, the remains of a deceased loved one are returned to the family. Ashes must be kept in a suitable receptacle; urns are the standard receptacle used for this purpose. The Advant...

Does The Catholic Church Forbid Cremation At The Time Of Death

Cremation is somewhat new to Catholic tradition, even though it is increasingly prevalent. The early Church adhered to the Jewish tradition of physical burial and condemned the widespread Roman pag...