• Richelle Godwin

Green burial, is it right for you?

Going green can even happen after death, by nourishing the soil and eliminating the use of chemicals and toxins.

Green burials, supporting the Earth and nourishing it after death.

When I was 14 years old, my pet rabbits, Mopsey and Flopsey passed away. I was devastated and wanted to give them a proper resting place. Our backyard was their home and playground, they loved their jungle, hiding under huge leaves of rhubarb, nibbling up parsley (they always had parsley breath) and hopping free throughout the long summer days. I wanted to keep them close so I could return to see them when my sorrows were at a peak. I decided to dig a hole with my father next to the edge of the garden and we laid them delicately down. I said a few parting words filled with gratitude for the joy they brought our family and friends and for the lessons of life, kindness, and responsibility they taught me. Then we covered them with soil and I sprinkled daisy seeds on their grave. The following summer and thereafter, we had the most beautiful, strong and glorious daisies. Mopsey and Flopsey returned with the seasons each year bringing fond memories and love with their smiling daisy faces.

This practice was a green burial, before green burials were even a thing. There are many ways in which the body can be laid to rest causing little to no impact on the environment. It’s a natural process, this life we live, being born with nothing and leaving with nothing. The body remains fully natural, having no chemical processes done to preserve it and is placed back into the earth to provide nourishment to the land. The type of casket/coffin can still be chosen from a sustainable material and the body can be wrapped with natural fibers.

What are your end of life wishes for your body? Consider what a green burial is and it's impact on the Earth- this is your body, how would you like to be laid to rest?

There are some federal regulations and state laws which may prohibit green burials, including some regulations impacting burials on private property. Some funeral homes and cemeteries have rules for casket material and embalming fluid. So check with these entities if you decide to choose a green burial. Each state also has their own guidelines for depth of placement of the body which ranges from 10 inches to 3.5 feet. This is good to know as most animals will not disturb the body and even the most ferocious animal will only go down a maximum of 12 inches, allowing peace of mind for loved ones, knowing their recently departed will not be disturbed but carefully hugged by the earth to provide lasting benefits.

A few guidelines to follow when selecting a green burial are chemicals, toxins, and other materials can leach into the soil preventing anything to properly grow and nourish the earth and can prevent the natural decomposition to take place. Embalming serves no purpose other than preserving the body. It has been confirmed through research that harmful bacteria and viruses become inert within hours or days after death (1).

Non-Green Burials:

  • Cost (generally $4,000-more than $10,000)

  • Chemical/toxic based embalming fluid

  • Metal or treated casket

  • Cement vaults

  • Certain fiber material (polyester, microfiber and other unnatural blends)

Green Burials Benefits:

  • Decreased cost (usually $500-$5,000)

  • Soil restoration

  • Reuse of the land (depending on location)

  • Easily biodegradable materials and containers

Caskets or containers made from pine wood or plain, untreated wood, wicker, bamboo, various grasses and even cardboard are acceptable. Fabric made from natural and sustainable materials like cotton, hemp, bamboo or wool can be used for wraps or shrouds, special blankets or handmade quilts. There are businesses dedicated to making these specifically for burial purposes or creating one that travels with you throughout your life and then wrapped around your body for your final resting spot. For those selecting natural land, you can set-up a GPS system so you’ll always know where to find your loved one.

Green burials are becoming more requested and most states support these trends. Please check out this general list for those interested in green burial locations in each US State and Canada. At Gentle Passage Doula Collective, we can help educate you on your choices and connect you with the green businesses. We can also help be with you and your loved ones as death approaches, provide care for the body and help arrange for funerals, memorials and celebrations of your recently departed. Please contact us for more information and how we can support you.

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  1. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17232879

  2. https://www.lhlic.com/consumer-resources/green-burial/

  3. https://www.us-funerals.com/green-burial-directory/ (green burial location finder)


The tools, resources and information does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only, not advice or guarantee of outcome. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the Gentle Passage Doula Collective Website, downloaded resources and/or educational material, or misinterpreted the information/context/educational sessions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911. Gentle Passage Doula Collective and its members are not responsible for errors and omissions in reporting or explanation. No individuals, including those under our active care, should use the information, resources or tools contained within to self-diagnosis or self-treat any health-related condition. Gentle Passage Doula Collective gives no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness or applicability or the content.


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