June 1, 2023

Green Burials: A Quick Guide

Green burials are becoming an increasingly popular way to say a final goodbye to loved ones. These types of funerals are not a new concept. During the mid-19th century, many people conducted eco-friendly funerals. Today, most Muslim and Jewish burials are green, too.

The US has several green cemeteries, including conservation, hybrid, and natural burial grounds. Green burials help reduce the need for toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, which can cause cancer. Furthermore, they reduce the waste of natural resources such as iron, copper, wood, and concrete.

A green burial is also substantially less expensive than a traditional burial because there is no need for embalming or an ornate casket.

If you and your family want to continue protecting the environment even after you pass away, there are several tasteful and memorable green burial options to consider.

Woven Caskets

Woven caskets incorporate the weaving of wicker and bamboo. These materials are biodegradable, and when woven together, they create a beautiful basket effect. If you choose a woven casket, you can decorate it with flower wreaths and ribbons. You can also use a woven casket for cremation purposes.

Floating and Rock Salt Urns

Green burials don’t have to involve a conventional burial at all. Instead, you can have a final farewell at the ocean or a lake with a floating urn. Floating urns hold ashes and float upright in the water for a few minutes before they sink below the surface.

Once the urn is under the water, it releases the ashes. You can place flower leis around the urn or scatter petals in the water next to it. Another type of urn used for water burial is a rock salt urn. These don’t float but will dissolve over time when placed in water. Rock salt urns are also suitable for earth burial. If you’re planning a water burial using an urn, you should check your local state laws and follow the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) laws when planning a sea burial.

True Sea Burial

True sea burials are an option for those passionate about the sea. You can have a sea burial without using an urn or having a cremation.

Several designated US coastal areas make allowances for sea burials. These burials usually take a few hours because a charter is required to transport the funeral party out on the sea.

The EPA issues a general permit that allows sea burials, provided that the event takes place more than three nautical miles from shore and doesn’t include pet remains or artificial materials.

Another sea burial option is to combine ashes with environmentally friendly concrete to create artificial ocean reefs. These reefs support several forms of marine life.

Tree Urns

Tree urns are another popular green burial option. When using a tree urn, the ashes lie at the bottom of a biodegradable container, and a tree seed is added to compacted soil above it. The ashes feed the seed, and the container will decompose after it is planted.

You should note that most cemeteries, even green ones, won’t allow you to plant a tree on the grounds or an individual grave. However, there are over 30 cemeteries in America that allow for living urns, as well as two in Canada.

Woodland Burial

A woodland burial means choosing an area of natural beauty to lay a loved one to rest. Anyone buried in a woodland area is not embalmed and will lie in an eco-friendly coffin. The grave typically won’t have a headstone, but if you choose this type of burial, you can plant a tree or wildflowers at the site. Woodland burials help protect natural areas of beauty and are, for some, a less traumatic place to visit after a loved one is buried. These burials are also a great way to honor someone who loved nature.

The Bottom Line

There are many benefits to choosing green burials over traditional ones. For more information, contact us at Wyuka Cemetery at (402) 474-3600.


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