Green burial is swiftly growing around the country as a normalized, meaningful and preferred option for disposition. In the simplest terms, green burial implies that the grave itself is shallower, only about 3 feet, in order to properly assist the natural processes of decomposition. For a burial to be considered green, cement vaults (which are always a part of conventional burial and both "hold" the casket and maintain the lawn-like, leveled and manicured appearances of cemeteries), metal caskets and embalming are not allowed. Instead, other biodegradable containers are used. All of these come in different varieties and there are more and more people who run businesses making beautiful, environmentally kind containers for people to use for loved ones or to eventually be buried in.
Green burial sites often serve as sanctuaries for people to visit and revisit, to walk around in and reflect. One ideal of green burial is to leave these sites as they naturally are, to allow them to be wild, living land as opposed to manicured lawns and to remind us in deep and intimate ways that life and death feed each other. They are never separate. This type of burial honors the earth of us and allows the elements that comprise our physical being an unencumbered passage into the soil and systems that quietly, meticulously and profoundly support all life. These sanctuaries are spaces to remember our loved ones and to take to heart, as ongoing reflection, the fundamental, natural cycles of life and death.
"Natural Burial Grounds require the adoption of practices and protocols that are energy-conserving, minimize waste, and do not require the use of toxic chemicals."
- Green Burial Council
Photo by Corey Kohn
examples of businesses that offer green containers and coverings for burials:
Chuck Lakin, GGGB board member, builds wooden caskets, custom coffins, and urns. He is based in Waterville, Maine.
The Old Pine Box specializes in pine box caskets, pine coffins, cedar coffins and specialty urns. Based in New Mexico.
Passages International designs and produces eco-friendly woven caskets and biodegradable urns.
Kinkaraco Green Funeral Products takes the most ancient funeral object— the shroud—and transforms it into an affordable easy to use, modern green funeral product for funeral homes to offer people seeking green burial and cremation, replacing both clothing and caskets.
Through your help and support, Good Ground Great Beyond aims to find and purchase land to be used as a green burial site. We are focused on finding 20-100 acres in the Midcoast area, including the towns of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Richmond, Dresden, Woolwich, Edgecomb and Alna. Our intent is to find a parcel that is remote and rural enough to maintain the qualities of quiet and space but still be commuting distance from more densely populated residential areas. Donations made to the organization will go toward acquisition and care of the land.