Some People Think Green Burial Is

MYTH TWO  A Low-Cost Budget-Driven Choice

In fact, green burial is one of many options supporting meaningful end-of-life rituals. The argument for green burial has never focussed on cost but rather on making choices that support and contribute to environmental sustainability. First-hand conversations with families who have chosen green burial bear this out: cost is a secondary consideration to their ability to hold a service that reflects their core values and beliefs.

Green burial is not for everyone. But until it is more widely offered, many families will not have the opportunity to choose this option, or even be able to choose from a spectrum of increasingly “green” (sustainable) products and services. Where green burial may not be practicable for legal, practical, cultural or religious reasons, the optimum scenario is that cemetery and funeral service consumers will ask for more sustainable choices within the options that are available to them.

Green burial should never be viewed as an all-or-nothing proposition. Just because there may not be an official green burial cemetery in your community, there is no reason why sustainable products and services cannot be included in the bereavement and interment process. For example, insisting on only basic body preparation instead of embalming, seeking simpler, bio-degradable caskets, and finding local cemeteries that will accommodate interments without grave liners or vaults are just a few ways to “green up” even traditional burials.

Every decision made from the perspective of environmental sensitivity is a positive one. And as more and more families include environmental impact considerations as a part of their end-of-life planning, more and more cemetery and funeral service providers will be expected to offer them what they seek. This could be “hybrid green burial” at first, or a full range of green burial options alongside all of their other service choices.  

Most important to the GBSC—and everyone seeking to promote green burial products and services—is for every family to give serious consideration to how end-of-life planning can reduce or mitigate the impact of their choices on the local and global environment while not limiting or infringing on ethnic, cultural or spiritual beliefs. At the same time that families are being asked to consider green burial, we must also look to progressive death care providers – those who provide funeral and cemetery services – to examine the impact of their service offerings and business decisions in the broader environmental context.

Green burial is a purposeful, meaningful choice. Rather than being a “low-cost, budget-driven choice,” the choice of green burial expresses a family’s values, and includes, on an equal footing with other considerations, their personal values around environmental responsibility and global sustainability.