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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Funerals > Green Burial

Green Burial Cost

How Much Does a Green Burial Cost?

low costScattering Ashes: $200-$300+average costBurying Ashes: $200-$1,100high costCustom Options: $2,500-$6,500
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For people who like the idea of continuing to help the environment after they die, a "green" or "natural" burial forgoes harsh embalming fluids, sealed metal caskets and concrete vaults of a traditional burial. "Green" cemeteries often combine an open space conservation easement or trust with natural burial techniques.

Typical costs:

  • Burial in a natural burial preserve or green cemetery can cost $1,000-$4,000. This usually includes a burial plot, the fees to open and close the grave, a stone marker and a one-time charge to endow a perpetual care fund (to maintain the property as a natural burial site). Typically this does not include the cost of a funeral or memorial service, and any processing or transporting of the body by a funeral home or mortuary. The Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve[1] in upstate New York, charges $750 for a 15-by-15-foot burial plot plus $700 for opening and closing the grave. The Ramsey Creek Preserve[2] in South Carolina charges $2,500-$3,500 for a grave site, stone marker and native plants, plus $300-$500 to open and close the grave, and $85-$200 for engraving the marker.
  • Although cremating a body is an industrial process that burns fossil fuels and can release air pollutants, it uses far fewer resources than traditional burial. Some natural burial preserves or green cemeteries allow the scattering or burial of cremated ashes in areas that create or protect native habitat, typically at a Scattering cost of $200-$300 or more. White Eagle Memorial Preserve[3] in Washington requests a $250 donation for scattering ashes in the preserve. Burying cremated ashes in a green cemetery or natural burial preserve can cost $200-$1,100, depending on location. At Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve[4] in the Florida panhandle it costs $200 to bury cremated ashes, which includes a marker and a map; the Ramsey Creek Preserve[5] in rural South Carolina charges $550-$1,050 for cremation burial; and[6] sells biodegradable urns for $60-$230. This does not include the cost of cremation, which averages $1,000-$2,500 for all aspects of a simple direct cremation handled by a funeral home, mortuary or crematory. See How Much Does Cremation Cost.
  • There are other environmentally friendly options. For $2,500-$6,500,[7] mixes cremated ashes into concrete to form an artificial reef ball that is then added to a living coral reef, creating new marine habitat . The price includes placing the new artificial reef on the ocean floor, but does not cover the cost of a funeral or of family members participating in the reef placement. Also see How Much Does Scattering Ashes Cost.
Related articles: Gravesites, Headstones, Will, Funeral

What should be included:
  • Typically, an unembalmed body is placed in the ground wrapped in a blanket or cloth shroud. If a casket is used, it's biodegradable --soft pine or cardboard. Or, cremated ashes are raked into the soft ground or buried in a container designed to degrade, blending the ashes into the soil.
  • Compared to the traditional cemetery plot of 3'x10', natural burial plots range from 6'x12' to as large as 20'x20'. Usually only one body and one set of cremated remains may be buried in a single site. Typically, gravesites in a green cemetery are mapped and recorded, but often are reached by pathways rather than roads or paved walkways. Grave markers are unobtrusive -- usually an engraved boulder or a small metal plaque. The Natural Burial Cooperative provides an overview[8] .
  • Green cemeteries range from hybrids that offer a mix of natural and conventional burial sections, to dedicated natural burial grounds with a conservation trust in an area that is ecologically significant or that serves as a wildlife corridor or critical habitat areas. The Green Burial Council provides an overview of the types of green cemeteries.
  • A green burial might require family members of the deceased to take more initiative in the funeral and burial. Glendale Nature Preserve in Florida explains what to do[9] when acting as the funeral director. Many green cemeteries or burial preserves encourage family members and friends to help with the burial, including carrying in the body.
  • Most natural burial grounds include areas for burying cremated ashes, but many try to promote the idea of natural burial (returning the body to the earth as nutrients) rather than the more industrialized cremation process. However, newer cremation facilities may use significantly less energy and release fewer pollutants than older ones. The Green Burial Council lists standards for cremation disposition programs[10] .
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