What Is A Green Burial?

Although green burials were common practice long ago, the onset of the modern green burial movement is fairly recent. In general, a green burial is one that incorporates environmentally sustainable practices, does not attempt to inhibit decomposition, and does not introduce toxic elements into the environment.

More specifically, in the view of the Green Burial Council, green burial:

  • Includes the use of any burial container made of a sustainable material (paper, fabric, wood)
  • Prohibits the use of toxic chemicals in body preparation and burial container construction
  • Prohibits the use of an outer burial container or vault
  • May also involve burial in a ground that promotes land conservation and long-term stewardship


The Green Burial Council further classifies the range of green burial grounds into three categories:

  • Hybrid Burial Grounds are located within a traditional cemetery, permit the use of toxic chemicals used in the embalming process, and require burial within a green casket or shroud.
  • Natural Burial Grounds are found within an exclusively green cemetery that seeks to lessen the environmental impact of a death. The use of toxic chemicals, non-organic caskets, vaults, traditional grave markers are prohibited
  • Conservation Burial Sites are independent conservation organizations operating with a conservation easement. They focus on land preservation and use burial fees to contribute toward maintaining and conserving the site