Natural Burials: An Informative Guide for Cemetery Businesses on Alternative Burial Options


Natural burials have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional burial practices in recent years. As society becomes more environmentally conscious, many individuals are seeking out options that minimize their impact on the earth while also providing a meaningful way to say goodbye to loved ones who have passed away.

For example, consider the case of John and Mary Smith. The couple had always been passionate about environmental issues and wanted to ensure that their final resting place reflected this commitment. When John passed away unexpectedly, Mary began researching alternatives to traditional cemetery plots. She discovered natural burial options and was immediately drawn to the idea of being buried in a natural setting without the use of embalming fluids or non-biodegradable materials.

This informative guide is intended for cemetery businesses looking to expand their offerings by incorporating natural burials into their services. It will provide an overview of what natural burials entail, including the benefits and challenges associated with them. Additionally, it will explore how cemetery businesses can prepare for offering natural burials, from acquiring suitable land to working with families during the planning process. By understanding these alternative burial options and making them available to clients, cemetery businesses can offer a unique service that aligns with growing societal values around sustainability and environmental preservation.

The Environmental and Economic Benefits of Natural Burials

Natural burials, also known as green burials, have gained popularity in recent years due to their environmental and economic benefits. One example of a successful natural burial site is Ramsey Creek Preserve located in South Carolina. The preserve has been operating since 1996 and offers a natural setting for burial where no embalming or concrete grave liners are used.

One of the environmental benefits of natural burials is that they reduce the carbon footprint associated with traditional burials. Traditional burials involve the use of embalming fluids which contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde that can seep into the ground and pollute water sources. In addition, traditional caskets often take up valuable land space and do not allow for decomposition to occur naturally. On the other hand, natural burials use biodegradable materials such as shrouds or eco-friendly caskets made from sustainable materials like bamboo or wicker.

Another benefit of natural burials is that they are more cost-effective than traditional burials. According to a study by the Funeral Consumers Alliance, the average cost of a funeral with viewing and burial in a vaulted cemetery plot was $7,640 in 2019. In comparison, a basic natural burial can be done for approximately $2,000 to $5,000 including all expenses. This includes costs associated with transportation, permits, digging fees, and placement markers.

Furthermore, natural burials offer families an opportunity to contribute positively to conservation efforts. Many natural burial sites partner with conservation organizations to protect wildlife habitats and maintain native flora populations on their grounds. By choosing these environmentally friendly options instead of conventional ones, individuals can leave behind a positive impact on our planet even after death.

To illustrate further the differences between traditional and natural burials here’s a table comparing them:

Traditional Burial Natural Burial
Embalmed body No embalming
Concrete or metal casket Biodegradable coffin made from sustainable materials
Cemetery maintenance with chemical fertilizers and pesticides Partnering with conservation organizations to promote native flora populations

In conclusion, natural burials offer a unique alternative to traditional burial practices that are kinder to the environment and more affordable. As public interest in eco-friendly options continues to grow, cemetery businesses should consider offering these services as part of their offerings. Understanding the legal and regulatory landscape of natural burials is crucial for successfully integrating them into your business model.

Understanding the Legal and Regulatory Landscape of Natural Burials

The benefits of natural burials are not just limited to the environment, but also extend to economic considerations. For example, conventional burial practices often involve embalming and the use of expensive caskets and vaults. In contrast, natural burials utilize biodegradable materials such as shrouds or simple wooden coffins that cost significantly less.

One case study involved a cemetery in Pennsylvania that began offering natural burials in 2011. The cemetery found that these alternative burial options became increasingly popular over time, with natural burials comprising approximately 10% of all interments by 2016 . This demonstrates how there is a growing demand for more sustainable death care practices.

In addition to cost savings, natural burials can have positive emotional effects on bereaved families. Here are some examples:

  • A sense of comfort knowing their loved one is buried in a way that aligns with their values
  • Feeling connected to nature and the cycle of life and death
  • Honoring the deceased’s wishes for an environmentally friendly funeral
  • Providing a unique and personalized farewell experience

Table: Environmental Comparison between Conventional Burial Practices and Natural Burial Options

Conventional Burial Practices Natural Burial Options
Embalming Fluids Formaldehyde-based None or non-toxic alternatives
Casket Materials Metal or hardwood Biodegradable materials like wicker or bamboo
Burial Vaults Often required Not used
Maintenance Costs Expensive upkeep needed Minimal maintenance needed

Understanding the legal landscape surrounding natural burials is important for cemetery businesses looking to offer these services. Regulations vary from state to state, so it’s crucial to research local laws and requirements before making any changes.

Some states require specific permits for land designated for natural burials while others may regulate minimum depths for gravesites. It’s also important to consider liability insurance and potential legal issues that may arise from offering alternative burial options.

In summary, natural burials can provide economic benefits for both cemetery businesses and bereaved families while offering a more sustainable death care option. Understanding the legal landscape is crucial for those looking to offer these services. The next section will delve into practical tips on how cemetery businesses can begin incorporating natural burial options into their offerings.

A Guide to Offering Natural Burial Services for Cemetery Businesses

As cemetery businesses consider offering natural burial services, it is important to understand the practical considerations involved. For example, what types of caskets or shrouds are appropriate for a natural burial? How can cemetery staff ensure that gravesites remain undisturbed and free from invasive plants?

One hypothetical case study involves a small family-owned cemetery in rural America. The owners have noticed an increased interest in natural burials among their customers, many of whom value environmentally-friendly practices and want more control over end-of-life arrangements. However, the owners are unsure about how to navigate the legal requirements surrounding natural burials.

To help other cemetery businesses facing similar questions, we offer the following guide:

1. Research state and local laws

Natural burials may be governed by a variety of regulations at the federal, state, and local levels. Cemetery operators should research these laws thoroughly before beginning to offer this service.

2. Obtain necessary permits

Depending on jurisdictional requirements, obtaining permits for natural burials–including land disturbance and water quality permits–may be necessary.

3. Educate staff and customers

Cemetery employees should receive training on proper techniques for preparing gravesites and handling biodegradable materials such as wicker caskets or cloth shrouds. Additionally, customers who wish to arrange for a natural burial should receive information about available options and recommended best practices.

4. Develop marketing strategies

Marketing efforts aimed at promoting natural burial services might include outreach through social media channels or partnerships with environmental organizations interested in sustainable funeral practices.

The table below illustrates some key differences between traditional burial methods versus those associated with green burials:

Traditional Burial Green Burial
Embalmment using toxic chemicals No embalmment or use of non-toxic preservatives
Concrete vaults that do not allow decomposition Simple wooden coffin/shroud; no vaults or liners
Headstones and landscaping that require maintenance Indigenous plants; natural markers such as stones, trees or engraved rocks
Cemetery grounds are manicured with pesticides and herbicides Natural landscapes without synthetic chemicals

Ultimately, cemetery businesses must assess their own capabilities and resources before deciding whether to offer green burial services. However, as more consumers become interested in environmentally-friendly end-of-life options, the demand for these types of burials is likely to continue growing.

The Role of Education and Outreach in Promoting Natural Burials will explore strategies for educating customers about this alternative option.

The Role of Education and Outreach in Promoting Natural Burials

As more people become aware of the impact traditional burial practices have on the environment, natural burials are gaining popularity. Cemetery businesses can play a crucial role in promoting this alternative option to their clients and communities.

For example, consider Green Meadow Cemetery which recently added natural burial services to its offerings. The cemetery noticed an uptick in inquiries from individuals who wanted a more environmentally friendly way to lay their loved ones to rest. By offering these options, they were able to meet the needs of those seeking sustainable burial methods while also attracting new customers.

To effectively promote natural burials, education and outreach efforts are essential for cemetery businesses. Here are some strategies that can be implemented:

  • Partner with local sustainability groups: Collaboration with organizations such as green burial councils or conservation societies is an effective way to reach out to like-minded individuals and promote natural burials.
  • Host educational events: Hosting workshops or seminars about natural burials can educate potential customers about eco-friendly alternatives and dispel any misconceptions surrounding them.
  • Use social media platforms: Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide an opportunity for cemetery businesses to share information about their services and connect with interested parties.
  • Offer personalized consultations: Providing one-on-one consultations allows families to discuss their individual preferences regarding end-of-life arrangements and learn how natural burials align with their values.

In addition to these strategies, communicating the benefits of natural burials through visuals can evoke emotional responses from potential customers. For instance, here’s a table showcasing the environmental impact of various funeral practices:

Funeral Practice Carbon Emissions (kg) Embalming Chemicals Released
Traditional Burial 1300 Yes
Cremation 540 No
Natural Burial 200 No

By highlighting how much less harmful natural burials are to the environment, cemetery businesses can appeal to those who prioritize sustainable living practices.

In conclusion, education and outreach efforts play a crucial role in promoting alternative burial options such as natural burials. By partnering with local sustainability groups, hosting educational events, using social media platforms and offering personalized consultations, cemetery businesses can effectively market their services. Additionally, incorporating visuals like tables showcasing environmental impact data can evoke emotional responses from potential customers and further encourage them to consider eco-friendly burial methods.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about “Innovative and Sustainable Memorialization Options for Natural Burials,” it’s important to explore how these new trends align with contemporary values of sustainability .

Innovative and Sustainable Memorialization Options for Natural Burials

With education and outreach efforts, more people are gaining awareness about natural burials as an alternative to traditional burial practices. As a result, cemetery businesses have witnessed an increasing demand for sustainable funerary options. One example of how this shift is happening can be seen in the story of Mrs. Johnson.

Mrs. Johnson’s husband passed away unexpectedly, leaving her with the responsibility of making arrangements for his funeral. She wanted something unique that would reflect his love for nature and the environment. After researching various options online, she stumbled upon natural burials. It was perfect – it aligned with their values while also being affordable. Mrs. Johnson found peace knowing that her husband’s legacy will live on through the trees that will grow from his remains.

Cemetery businesses looking to cater to individuals like Mrs.Johnson should consider offering innovative and sustainable memorialization options such as:

  • Planting a tree or shrub at the gravesite in memory of the deceased
  • Creating a communal garden where family members can plant flowers and vegetables in honor of their loved ones
  • Designing headstones made out of biodegradable materials such as bamboo or recycled paper
  • Installing benches throughout the cemetery so visitors can sit and reflect

Not only do these options offer eco-friendly alternatives but they also provide families with meaningful ways to commemorate their loved ones.

In addition to these ideas, another way cemetery businesses could promote natural burials is by educating customers about its benefits through brochures or seminars. Providing information about how this option helps preserve land resources, reduce carbon footprint, and support local wildlife populations may inspire more people to adopt this practice.

To further understand why promoting natural burials is important, take a look at the table below highlighting some facts related to traditional burial practices :

Traditional Burial Practices Environmental Impact
Embalming fluid contains formaldehyde which pollutes soil and groundwater Can lead to health problems for those living nearby
Coffins made of hardwood or metal take years to decompose, contributing to deforestation and mining Waste of natural resources
Graveyards occupy large areas of land which could be used for other purposes such as parks or housing developments Limiting the use of valuable space

By presenting this information in a clear and concise manner, cemetery businesses can help customers make informed decisions about end-of-life arrangements.

Addressing Common Misconceptions and Myths About Natural Burials is the next step in helping people understand why it’s important to consider eco-friendly funerary options.

Addressing Common Misconceptions and Myths About Natural Burials

As more people seek environmentally friendly options, natural burials have become increasingly popular. However, some may wonder how they can still honor their loved ones in a meaningful way without traditional headstones or elaborate memorials. Fortunately, there are innovative and sustainable memorialization options available.

For instance, one cemetery offers the option of planting wildflowers over the gravesite instead of using a traditional marker. This not only allows for a beautiful tribute to the deceased but also creates a habitat for pollinators such as butterflies and bees.

There are several other unique ways to honor those who have passed on during a natural burial:

  • Planting trees near the gravesite is an excellent way to create a lasting legacy while providing shade, oxygen, and beauty.
  • Creating art installations that incorporate biodegradable materials such as wood or clay is another creative way to pay homage to someone’s life.
  • Installing benches or picnic tables in designated areas within the cemetery provides visitors with a space to reflect and remember their loved ones.
  • Donating funds towards conservation efforts within the cemetery ensures that future generations will be able to appreciate its natural beauty.

Another aspect of natural burials that often raises questions is how families can locate their loved one’s grave site without permanent markers. One solution is utilizing GPS technology; however, this may not always be feasible. A recent study found that people tend to use landmark-based directions when navigating cemeteries; thus, incorporating distinctive landmarks throughout the cemetery could aid in finding specific gravesites .

To further illustrate this point, consider the following table showcasing different types of landmarks used in various cultures around the world:

Culture Landmark Type Meaning
Japanese Lanterns Symbolizes enlightenment
Mexican Ofrendas Altars dedicated to the deceased
Celtic Standing Stones Markers for important locations or events
Native American Totem Poles Tells a story about the person buried

Incorporating unique landmarks within natural cemeteries can not only aid in locating gravesites but also add cultural significance and meaning.

Overall, there are several innovative and sustainable memorialization options available for those interested in natural burials. These alternatives provide an opportunity to pay tribute to a loved one’s life while still preserving the environment .


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