Green Burial Blog
help us spread the word about green burial so we all share in protecting our environment.
People are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of climate change. Depending on where you live, you may have experienced the changes first-hand, such as record setting temperatures in Arizona, extreme wildfires and drought in California and the west, and an increasing number of hurricanes in the southeast. Even though people’s awareness is growing, it still feels like anything we try to do has such a small impact that we wonder if it’s even worth it.
Here are some things you can do to have an impact on the health of our environment:
A vast majority of people are buried in a traditional cemetery when they die. In every town across the country, there are both small and large plots of land that are dedicated to this very purpose. While not every cemetery is maintained as well as others, the cost of maintenance can be significant, both in terms of finances and environmental; there are various other costs associated with cemeteries as well.
As the nation’s population grows, and as more and more land is needed to build homes and house the population, can we reasonably expect to continue burying people in the ground?
What Are the Costs of a Traditional Burial?
The Casket and Related Materials
The cost of a casket can range considerably depending on the material and other features. For a casket on the economical side, typically made of pine, while still providing a quality appearance, the cost could range from $500 to $1,000. On the high-end side, a casket could cost upwards of $6,000 to $7,000 or more.
There are also environmental costs of the casket, which include using trees for wood, metal for hinges and other fasteners, and various natural and processed materials for the cushions and lining inside the casket.
In addition, though not every cemetery requires it, there is also the burial vault. This is a cement or sometimes steel enclosure that holds the casket, protecting it from the elements as well as helping to prevent the soil surrounding the burial plot from sinking. The cement industry is a leading producer of carbon dioxide.
According to an article in the Berkeley Planning Journal, the United States uses 30 million board feet of wood (each board foot is 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch), more than 104,000 tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of concrete, and 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid.
Planning a funeral, whether it’s for a loved one who has recently passed, or your own for when the time comes, is an extremely difficult time. Making decisions when under the weight of grief can feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to financing everything that goes into a funeral.
More and more, people are recognizing the benefits of green burials, also called natural burials. If you’re environmentally conscious or simply want to reduce the overall costs of a burial, this may be an alternative to traditional burials to consider.
What is the Difference Between a Green and Traditional Burial?
For anyone who isn’t familiar with what a green burial is, some distinguishing features of a natural burial include:
The Costs of a Green Burial
When you choose a green burial, a significant benefit is the fact that you can forego many of the superfluous items associated with a traditional burial; however, there are some costs that go into a green burial, including:
Total: $1,560 - $6,640
With a green burial, the biggest expense is often the plot itself, which will depend on where the plot is located, the endowment fees for the natural area, and other factors. The burial clothing is often a shroud made of a biodegradable material, but if you choose traditional clothing made of biological materials, that could increase that cost. Many people do choose a burial vessel or casket, but it is made of bamboo, cardboard, or other natural material rather than treated wood or metal. There are also other miscellaneous costs involved if you choose, such as an officiant who can speak at the service, flowers, and other items to personalize the ceremony.
The Costs of a Traditional Burial
Some of the costs associated with a traditional burial, which takes place in a cemetery and typically involves working with a funeral home, include:
Total: $7,100 - $25,000
Cemetery costs can be further broken down into service fees and the opening and closing of the grave (digging the plot and covering it back up). Funeral home services include things like transfering the remains, preparing the body, transportation rentals, and other items. The cost of a traditional burial can vary greatly depending on the location and materials and items chosen.
Choose EverAfterly For Your Green Burial Plot
Ultimately, the cost of a green burial is considerably less than a traditional burial. At EverAfterly, the burial plots at our Morgan Oaks Eternal Preserve ranges from $900 to $3,360, depending on whether you want a full plot or a cremation plot. Whichever you choose, we are passionate about protecting our environment for future generations, and providing a final resting place you can feel good about.
Learn more about EverAfterly, and contact us if you have any questions.
The dangers of climate change are becoming more and more clear, and its effects on our planet are becoming more frequent, from bigger storms to more damaging forest fires. States like California, Texas, and Colorado are no strangers to the massive impacts of wildfires. With these impacts on our environment, people are looking for ways to help protect our planet for future generations; one of those ways is through green burials.
What is a Green Burial?
A green, or natural burial is when someone is buried using sustainable, biodegradable materials. The body is wrapped with a cloth shroud and is simply placed directly into the ground. Traditional burials use chemicals to preserve the body, the body is placed in a casket, the casket is placed in a burial vault, and the cemetery uses resources to maintain the appearance of the grounds – all of which can have a significant impact on the environment. A green burial bypasses all of these harmful materials, chemicals, and practices and allows the body to return to nature and become a part of the earth.
What Are the Greenest Ways to be Buried?
Use a Biodegradable Shroud
Even though our clothes will degrade far faster than many other products, like water bottles, synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and spandex can still take 20 to 200 years to decompose. If you’re interested in a natural burial in order to protect our environment, you will want to be buried in materials that can break down faster and are made of natural fibers. Common natural fibers used in green burials are cotton, hemp, linen, and silk. These materials can be used as a shroud in which the body is wrapped.
Don’t Use Embalming Fluids
After someone dies, the body is preserved using a combination of chemicals. Embalming fluids consist of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol, humectants, and other solvents that prevent the body from decomposing so that there can be a funeral service. The service is typically held within a week after death. In a natural burial, there is no chemical use and the body is buried within a few days after passing. This prevents the chemicals from leaching into the soil for years after the burial.
Forego the Casket, or Use Sustainable Materials
Although caskets are not a common practice for natural burials, they can provide a type of comfort for those wanting a burial that in some way resembles a traditional service. In traditional burials, caskets are commonly made of treated wood with metal fasteners and varnishes or stains (chemicals) to give them a high-end appearance. These can be harmful to the soil and take significantly longer to decompose. There are also metal caskets, which do not decompose at all. For a natural burial, you can choose a casket that is made of hemp, untreated wicker, bamboo, willow, or even cardboard.
Find a Natural Burial Plot Instead of a Cemetery
Natural burial plots are areas where nature is given the opportunity to thrive on its own. There may be some management of the land, but only minimal work is done and sustainable, natural methods are used to keep the area safe and protected. Cemeteries, on the other hand, require significant maintenance to keep the property well maintained. This can be done through the use of fertilizers, excessive watering, grass mowing, and more.
What is THE Greenest Way to be Buried?
If you’re truly looking for a 100% natural burial, there will be as few materials as possible. Your body will simply be wrapped in a biodegradable shroud and placed directly into the ground where the land is allowed to thrive naturally.
Choose EverAfterly For a Green Burial in California
EverAfterly is passionate about preserving the land and protecting our environment for future generations. Our natural burial plots are essentially nature preserves that are beautifully restored using sustainable land management practices.
Morgan Oaks Eternal Preserve is located in Placer County, and is a beautiful space filled with trees, natural grasses, and wildflowers. When you choose EverAfterly, you’ll get GPS coordinates for your plot so that family members and friends can locate your body and visit you just like a traditional cemetery. If you’re looking for a natural way to be buried, our team is here to help you find your perfect final resting place. Get in touch with our team today to learn more.
It can seem like there are a lot of regulations about how someone can be buried when they die, from the use of embalming fluids to working with a funeral home to what the body needs to be buried in and where. And while there are some regulations that funeral homes, cemeteries, and local municipalities have, people often have more freedom than they believe when it comes to their end-of-life burial decisions.
A common question that people ask is, “can a body be buried without a casket?” A casket is one of the more expensive components of a traditional burial, so it’s no wonder that people are looking for ways to avoid this expense. The good news is that there are alternative burial options, including a green or natural burial. So in short, yes, you can be buried without a casket. However, there are a few considerations.
State’s Laws and Cemetery Regulations
While green burials are allowed in all states, each state has slightly different requirements. In most cases, it’s the specific cemetery that has regulations that need to be followed, especially those pertaining to concrete vaults. A burial vault is a container typically made of concrete that is placed in the ground and houses the casket. The purpose of a vault is to ensure that the ground above the plot doesn’t settle as time goes by. It also protects the structure of the casket from dirt and animals and when a grave needs to be excavated nearby.
If you wish to be buried in a traditional cemetery, they may require a vault, but it is possible to be placed directly into the vault rather than a casket. However, this isn’t a common practice as it makes it difficult to have a viewing service and burial ceremony. If you do wish to have a viewing service and want to be buried in a cemetery, but do not want the expense of a typical casket, another option is to use another material for a green casket, such as hemp, cork, wicker, or cardboard. There are no requirements pertaining to the type of material a casket is made of.
Working With Your Funeral Home
The funeral home you choose will provide a wide variety of options that you can consider, and they will do what they can to ensure your wishes are met. This includes both traditional casket burials and green burials.
Alternative Burial Options If You Don’t Want a Casket
Like mentioned above, there is an option to be buried in a variety of materials. As each cemetery may have its own rules, you will need to work with them to determine what your options are.
A burial method that is growing in popularity is a green or natural burial. With a green burial, the body is wrapped in a biodegradable material and placed directly into the ground. A body can be buried on private property as well, but always check with your local zoning laws and it is still required that you work with a funeral home.
EverAfterly Offers Green Burial Services
There are many green burial grounds across the country as well, including Northern California. EverAfterly offers several natural burial locations, including Whispering Pines in the Sierra Mountains, Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, and Morgan Oaks in Placer County. Our compassionate team can ensure that your burial wishes are met, whether that’s a green burial or cremation. Learn more about the burial services we offer, and get in touch with us today if you have any questions.
Using embalming fluids when someone dies has been done for over a hundred years, so it can’t be that bad, right? However, the more you know about embalming fluids, the embalming process, and the effects it has on the environment, the more you may want to reconsider how you are buried when the time comes.
If you’re planning for how you want to be buried, here are a few things to know about embalming.
What Are Embalming Fluids?
Even though they’re commonly referred to as fluids, which sounds harmless, they are a mixture of chemicals and preservatives. Embalming fluid contains formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol, and other solvents. In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen." Glutaraldehyde is also used as a disinfectant and fixative. Methanol is a volatile, flammable liquid chemical. These chemicals can be incredibly harmful when someone is exposed to them, even just their fumes. After deconstructing embalming fluids, that alone might be enough to cause people to reconsider a traditional burial.
What is the Embalming Process?
The embalming process is essentially two steps: replacing bodily fluids with embalming fluids and cosmetically preparing the body for viewing. First, blood and other fluids are removed through the veins and then replaced with an embalming solution, which is also done through the veins. Second, gas and fluids found within organs in the chest and abdomen are removed and replaced with embalming fluids. This occurs through a small incision in the abdomen. Then, the body is prepared with some makeup, hair is styled, and the body is dressed.
The Effects of Embalming Fluid on the Environment
As you can imagine, placing chemicals into the body may also have a negative effect on the environment once the body is placed into the ground. According to an article in the Berkeley Planning Journal, over 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid are used each year. And, as the body decomposes (embalming fluids only delay decay, not prevent it entirely), these chemicals are released from the body and can reach the surrounding soils. The Berkeley journal goes on to say that the surrounding soils have higher concentrations of copper, lead, zinc, and iron, which are materials used in the construction of caskets.
When you add up the square footage of all of the cemeteries across the nation, it’s clear that traditional burials and the use of embalming fluids cannot be good for the environment.
Choose a Cleaner Burial – EverAfterly Offers Green Burials in Northern California
EverAfterly offers alternative burial options, including green burials and cremation burial plots. We offer several natural burial locations in Northern California, including Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, Whispering Pines in the Sierra Mountains, and Morgan Oaks in Placer County.
Our green burial sites are essentially nature preserves that are protected and restored through the endowments provided by those laid to rest on the property. Our team is passionate about helping preserve our environment for future generations, and also allowing people a more natural and safe way to be buried. Our environment is a delicate ecosystem and traditional burial practices are placing an incredible amount of stress on that system. We hope to provide people with an alternative option, one that is safer, and that allows nature to truly thrive. Learn more about our mission at EverAfterly, and contact us with any questions you may have about green burials.
If you are going through the estate planning process or a loved one has passed away, you may be looking into what options are available regarding the burial of your body or the deceased. While the most popular option is a traditional burial that involves working with a funeral home, a casket, burial vault, and cemetery, more and more people are choosing a green burial.
What is a Green Burial?
The purpose of a green burial is to help preserve the environment, avoiding the use of non-renewable resources. A green burial typically consists of the body being wrapped in a biodegradable shroud and being placed directly into the ground where it can naturally decompose over time.
Another option that is more eco-friendly than a traditional burial is being cremated. While the furnace that is used for cremation is typically fueled by natural gas, there are generally no embalming fluids used (although you can be embalmed and then cremated in order to provide a funeral service with a viewing). The cremated remains can then be interred into the ground rather than using a casket, or they can simply be scattered into the wind or even out at sea.
Do All States Allow Green Burials?
The good news is that all states allow green burials. However, depending on the state you live in, you may want to check local zoning regulations before burying a body on private property. In addition, if the deceased body needs to be transported from one state to another, there may be local laws that regulate what needs to be done to the body before it is transported.
Who Can Prepare Burial Plans?
Because a funeral service doesn’t need to be involved with green burials, anyone can prepare the body for burial and put together plans for the burial service. However, healthcare facilities often require the person who has been designated the Durable Power of Attorney to handle funeral or burial arrangements. The designated Durable Power of Attorney can complete any paperwork and documentation. They will request the death certificate and prepare for transportation of the body.
Religious Burial Customs
Even though traditional burials are a common practice for a majority of people, one factor that can play a part in the decision is their religion. The Jewish culture has always had green burials for their deceased and the body is wrapped in a white shroud (tachrichim) and placed in a pine coffin. In the Islam culture, the body is buried as quickly as possible after death so there is no wake or viewing service. In both the Jewish and Islam faith, it is important to wash the body thoroughly. With Christian and Catholic faiths, traditional burials are more common. At one point cremations were not allowed in the Christian faith, but that rule has become more relaxed.
Choose EverAfterly For Green Burials in Northern California
If you live in the Northern California area, EverAfterly offers natural burial plots that are preserved through restorative land management techniques. We are committed to helping families ensure that their burial wishes are met, whether you want to be cremated or want a traditional green burial where there are no chemicals used and only renewable, biodegradable materials are used.
Located in California, we offer three different green burial preserves, including Whispering Pines in the Sierra Mountains, Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, and Morgan Oaks in Placer County.. We have years of experience helping families plan for a green burial and can help with cremation services, scattering ashes at sea, and traditional natural burials. The plots have GPS coordinates so loved ones can find exactly where your body has been placed, and we offer a variety of natural urns for interring ashes.
To help protect our environment for future generations, reach out to the EverAfterly team to learn more about green burial laws or regulations in California.
It’s definitely understandable that not many people want to spend time thinking about and planning for when they die. Many people simply assume that their significant other knows what they want, or they may think that doesn’t matter. But there are dozens of decisions that need to be made, and these decisions are incredibly personal.
One decision that will need to be made is the type of burial that you wish to have. While a majority of people are choosing the route of a traditional burial with a casket and typical cemetery, many are looking to learn more about green burials and want to know what to consider before making a final decision.
EverAfterly offers green burial sites in Northern California that are located on land that is naturally preserved using restorative land management techniques. Through our work and your contributions, you and your family can feel good about protecting our environment and preserving a natural space for loved ones to visit.
Making a decision about what to do with your body after you pass is undoubtedly challenging, but here are some things to consider if you are interested in a green burial.
If you are considering a green burial, there’s a good chance that you have ruled out a traditional burial. This may be because of the environmental impact or possibly with the high costs associated with traditional burials, such as the casket, purchasing the space in the cemetery, the headstone, etc. Whatever the reason, two alternatives include cremation and green burials.
While cremation is a more environmentally friendly option, the process still requires energy and emits an average of 534 pounds of carbon dioxide for one cremation. However, if you live far away from the nearest green cemetery plot, you’re also using up resources for the transportation of your body. If you choose cremation, there is also the decision of what to do with the remains; spreading ashes can also have an impact on vegetation.
While the decision is clearly not up to your family or friends, you may want to consider how easy it will be for them to visit your burial plot. While the number of green burial sites are growing across the country, it may be difficult for them to spend time with you if the site is far away. However, with EverAfterly, we offer GPS location services, making it easy for people to find your exact location, and our burial sites are preserved to allow nature to thrive, making visiting your plot a more special experience.
There may be fewer materials and products to choose if you decide to go with a green burial, but there are still decisions to be made regarding the coffin and the type of wood and the material your body will be wrapped in. The good news is that these decisions are typically the only ones. There isn’t a headstone with a green burial, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing an item that is made from expensive materials. In many cases, people choose to forego the coffin and are simply wrapped in a cotton shroud and laid directly into the ground. This can greatly reduce the costs as well as your environmental impact.
As you may already see, there are various benefits to a green burial. With a green burial, your body is not embalmed, so there aren’t any chemicals that ultimately end up in the ground. There are far less materials that are put in the ground as well, such as processed wood made to use the coffin, metal fasteners, and others. Resources aren’t used to maintain a perfectly manicured cemetery. And with EverAfterly, our fees are used to protect the land in which you are buried, helping to protect our environment for generations.
When considering a green burial, it’s important to find a location that is close to where you live now, so that your body doesn’t need to be transported hundreds of miles. You may also want to consider how the land is protected to ensure that it remains natural for years to come.
EverAfterly is located in Northern California and is passionate about helping people make a positive impact even in their death, and we work hard to ensure that the land used for our burials is kept natural and free of chemicals. If you’re interested in a green burial, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you have.