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Green Burial Defined

For more information, Please visit The GREEN BURIAL COUNCIL.

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Criteria and Characteristics of Green Burial

There is great debate over the use of the word "green" when discussing burial. ​Hybrid, natural, and conservation cemeteries choosing to follow the basic guidelines of green burial fall under the general category of green cemeteries, as opposed to conventional-lawn cemeteries that require concrete or plastic vaults or liners, allow embalmed bodies, and allow exotic wood or metal caskets. 

Natural burial grounds, cemeteries, and preserves all seek to bury without impediment. That means no embalming, no liners or vaults, and using biodegradable containers, whether caskets, shrouds or nothing at all. These cemeteries are operated by a variety of owners: municipal governments, religious groups, individuals, nonprofits, for-profits, and others. Often these burial grounds are designated natural because they may not be directly affiliated with or in partnership with a land trust or other conservation entity; but they most likely are committed to following conservation best practices nonetheless. Natural burial cemeteries strive to provide rich experiences for families and friends amidst careful restoration and maintenance of the land and its inhabitants, both above and below ground. To drill down to the specific requirements for qualifying as a green burial provider, please visit our Our Standards

GBC's Green Burial Ground Criteria

  • Caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources
  • Reduction of carbon emissions
  • Protection of worker health
  • Restoration and/or preservation of habitat

Green Burial Cemetery Characteristics

  • Foregoes toxic embalming
  • Does away with vaults
  • Chooses biodegradable containers, caskets, shrouds, and urns​
  • Discontinues herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers
  • Encourages sustainable management practices
  • May use GPS units or non-native stone markers to mark grave sites
  • May support land conservation efforts


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