The Three Different Types of Green Cemeteries

In addition to traditional cemeteries, there are a number of other options for where you can be buried, such as at a a “green” or “eco-friendly” cemetery.

Green burial grounds are characterized by the degree to which they conserve natural resources and preserve the environment, among other specific standards set forth by the Green Burial Council.

Types of green burial grounds

The Green Burial Council has developed a rating system for green burial grounds, which divides the types of green burial locations into three categories:

  • Hybrid Burial Ground, which is a conventional cemetery that allows for burial without an outer burial container (burial vault or grave liner) and allows for burial in any type of container, including a shroud.
  • Natural Burial Ground, which is a setting that prohibits outer burial containers (burial vaults and grave liners), prohibits the burial of bodies embalmed with toxic chemicals, and prohibits burial containers made of anything other than natural or plant-derived materials. In addition, Natural Burial Grounds must have a pesticide-free Integrated Pest Management system, which means that pests are controlled using natural and environmental practices that maintain the natural ecology and landscape, rather than using chemicals that may harm the ecology and the landscape.
  • Conservation Burial Ground, which has the strictest standards of the three burial grounds. In addition to meeting the requirements of the Natural Burial Ground, a Conservation Burial Ground “must involve an established conservation organization that holds a conservation easement or has in place a deed restriction guaranteeing long-term stewardship” and “be owned by, or operated in conjunction with a government agency or a nonprofit conservation organization that is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a public charity and in business for at least five years.”

Green burial products

If you are planning a burial at a green cemetery or natural burial ground, there will likely be restrictions around the types of burial products you can use. Green caskets and green headstones may be required.

To find a green cemetery, use our resource Guide: Finding a Green Cemetery.

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