A green burial, or a natural burial, is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional cremation and burial services. Natural services prioritize biodegradability and sustainability by avoiding embalming chemicals and burial materials like metal that interfere with decomposition.
Like other burial and funeral expenses, green burial costs vary widely between locations and services — anywhere from $500 to $5,000. A direct burial averages $2,597, and green burials may be even cheaper. For example, a green casket averages $1,500 compared to a metal $2,500.
Explore the green burial and costs by service below to learn more about eco-friendly alternatives.
Natural Burial Costs
The cost of your natural burial depends on several factors, including if you want a funeral or viewing, your burial location, and other service options.
Green burials remove several services and costs, like embalming and casket treatment, so they can be much cheaper than the average $2,597 burial cost or $9,420 funeral cost.
There are specialized green burial service providers that maintain their natural burial plots. They’re available in three levels:
- Hybrid: a green section of an existing, traditional burial ground.
- Natural: a section of an existing or traditional ground with separate green maintenance processes.
- Conservation: large burial grounds associated with parks and nature preserves.
These grounds can cut costs on traditional landscaping, like pesticides, but they may be on the hook for other services like ecological surveys. In the end, these burial grounds don’t typically cost more or less than traditional graves.
Here’s a breakdown of burial services and estimated costs between natural and traditional burials.
|Green Burial Cost
|Direct Burial Cost
Green Burial Benefits
Environmental considerations are the biggest benefits of a green burial. Natural burials prevent pollution from chemicals and buried items, cremation emissions, and traditional cemetery ground maintenance.
An estimated 5.3 million gallons of embalming fluid are buried with the dead each year, and these chemicals leak into our environment. Even cremation pollutes our air with an average of 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and hundreds or even thousands of pounds of mercury from dental fillings.
Green cremation with aquamation
While the cremation process isn’t any greener than traditional burials, there are eco-friendly cremation options, too. Water cremation, or aquamation, uses a process called alkaline hydrolysis, where chemicals, liquid, and low heat over several hours reduce the body to ash.
The low heat used in this process maxes out at 302°F, which uses far less energy than traditional cremation at a temperature of 1,800°F. The leftover solution is also sterile and recyclable like wastewater.
While aquamation is becoming more accessible, it’s still only legal and available in select states. Water cremated ashes can be kept in a eco-friendly urn, spread in a natural area, or used in a tree pod burial.
The inaccessibility of a green burial and limitations on what’s permitted on green burial lands can be negative for some. It’s harder to find a green burial service provider and burial plot than traditional burial services.
Even if there are green burial providers near you, they often restrict things like how you can be buried or what grave markers you can use. This typically limits body preservation processes like embalming, which can also make a traditional visitation or ceremony difficult to execute.
Some will love the low-fuss ceremony of a green burial, while others may want to consider hybrid burials for the best of both worlds.
Green burials aren’t any more expensive than direct burials unless you request additional services. In fact, many green burials save on funeral services and the casket itself by hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
It takes about 72 hours for a body to begin decomposing without intervention, but you can delay decomposition up to 8 days by keeping the body cool with dry ice or refrigeration.
Several factors influence the speed of decomposition, but bodies are typically fresh for 1-6 days. Connect with a green burial specialist to explore chemical-free preservation options.
Finalize Your Burial Plan
Whether you’re interested in a funeral ceremony and cremation or a simple green burial service, burial insurance can ensure your end-of-life wishes are granted without financial pressure for your family.
Get a final expense insurance quote today to find a policy that’s perfect for your budget and goals.