WeConservePA has refreshed and updated its guide, Green Burial. Green burials minimize negative environmental impacts by using biodegradable materials, avoiding toxic chemicals, and occurring on land maintained using good conservation practices.

Conventional burial practices harm the environment: they involve hazardous chemicals, non-biodegradable materials, and cemeteries that are often ecologically barren due to herbicide and fertilizer use. The term “green burial” refers to burial practices that minimize negative impacts on the environment. Unlike conventional burials, green burials:

  • Use burial shrouds or unsealed caskets made of renewable, biodegradable materials
  • Avoid embalming fluids and other toxic chemicals
  • Occur in green cemeteries, hybrid cemeteries, or natural burial grounds that are managed to protect biodiversity and prevent pollution

Some people extend the eco-friendly principles of green burials to encompass other parts of the death process such as funerals (e.g., a family might seek contributions to an environmental charity in lieu of flowers or print programs on recycled paper).

Ultimately, there is no hard-and-fast definition of what constitutes a green burial. However, the Green Burial Council does operate a certification program for burial grounds, funeral homes, and products based on a set of rigorous standards.