A Case for Green Burial

A green burial is one which respects the earth in all ways.  No polluting chemicals are used at any stage of the burial: no embalming fluid in the body, no noxious materials on or in the casket itself, no unnecessary vault into which the body must go.  A dead body is simply put into the ground wrapped in a shroud or placed inside a non-treated simple biodegradable coffin.

Conventional burial in a cemetery is hardly so earth-friendly.  Often the dead are embalmed and buried in caskets painted with metallic or enamel paint and sealed with noxious materials. Everyone in all conventional cemeteries must be in a casket which goes into a vault made of concrete and steel (for the sole purpose of making the lawn level and mowing easier).


The amount of unnecessary materials from burials that go into the earth is staggering.  Every year, in this country alone, there go into the ground from conventional burials:

1)  827,060 gallons of embalming fluid, enough to fill an Olympic size swimming pool. The trouble with embalming fluid is formaldehyde, banned in most of Europe.

2)  90,272 tons of steel, enough to build the Golden Gate Bridge.

3)  2,700 tons of copper and bronze.

4)  30 plus million board feet of endangered hardwood.

5)  1,636,000 tons of concrete, enough to build a two-lane highway from New York City to Detroit.  It is estimated that there exists slightly more than a ton of concrete for every person on the planet, concrete that can last 50,000 years.  Again, all this so that mowing the cemetary lawn can be made easier.

Compare these numbers with the materials that go into the ground in green burials: 

A body, a shroud, a biodegradable cardboard coffin or "an old pine box" 

There are growing numbers of carpenters, these days, who include in their businesses the making of coffins made from untreated woods that are not endangered.  But even coffins are not necessary.  A newly-made shroud or a favorite old cotton quilt will easily do if this is what the deceased's preference has been.  Surely a much lighter footprint.


Fountain Hill Cemetery - Bethlehem, PA
Ed Vogrins  610-868-4840

Mt Laurel Cemetery, Philadelphia has set aside 5 acres now designated as green burial sites   215-228-8200/8817

Steelmantown Cemetery Green Burial Preserve
Steelmantown, New Jersey 08270


THE GREEN BURIAL COUNCIL  is an "organization working to encourage   

environmentally sustainable death care and the use of burial as a new 

means of protecting natural areas."  On their site is a comprehensive and growing list of green burial cemeteries listed by state where you can find a green cemetery in your area.  http://www.greenburialcouncil.org

"Recycle Yourself: Being Green in Life and Death"  by Donna Larsen

THE NATURAL BURIAL COMPANY  "distributes biodegradable coffins, urns and natural burial goods throughout the US and into Canada."   This site is filled with links to green burial cemeteries, natural funeral service providers, The Natural End Cemetary Network and Funeral Services, links to books and a gallery showing some of the largest selection of biodegradable caskets.  http://www.naturalburialcompany.com/  

* Crafted Coffins In Our SE Pennsylvania Area

Master Carpenter David Campbell  follows the wisdom of each piece of his wood and creates beautifully crafted and sculpted wooden coffins and funeral urns, with input from the dying or deceased's family during every stage of his process.  Please visit David's website, filled with photographs of his work, at:  http://www.TheWoodsMyth.com/


A WILL FOR THE WOODS  A video taking a very personal look at green burial. http://www.awillforthewoods.com

"Green Burials Are Gaining Traction in the Washington Area"   A June 2011

article in "The Washington Post" about the burgeoning interest in green burial. 



A PBS "Frontline" Episode as a Sideways Case for Green Burial; A Frontline, ProPublica & NPR Collaborative Investigation of Death Investigators in the US:

Frontline  “Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America”:  

"Eternal Options - Man's After-Life Bedding Has Purpose Before Death"

Article in GettysburgTimes.com:  Mel Allen, Gettysburg area carpenter makes "affordable" coffins purely from local, biodegradable resources ..." 


 Mel Allen's website:  http://yourcountrycoffin.com


REST IN FLEECE, Woolen Coffins in the UK:




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