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Mar 03, 2021 Hartway

Green Burials in Virginia: What You Need to Know

Green Burials, also called Natural Burials, are becoming more and more popular in Virginia. While cremation is also on the rise, eco-friendly burials are better for the environment than traditional burials or cremation options. Not to mention, Green Burials are also easy on the wallet.
In a nutshell, Green burial is inexpensive, simple, and gentle on the earth, making it a very appealing option for individuals from all walks of life.

"Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life...and they will learn that death ​is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life." ​ — John Muir

How does green burial work?

Green burial is usually marked by four important factors:

  1. No embalming of the body.
  2. No burial vault.
  3. A biodegradable casket.
  4. A shallow grave that allows for normal decomposition.

Without chemical-heavy embalming, the body is allowed to decompose as nature intended, without releasing unnecessary toxins into the earth. Humans have been decomposing naturally for thousands of years, and green burial brings us back to this simple, even beautiful, return to the earth.

"We are men of nature
We are made from the earth
At the end of my eighty, I'll return to the dirt
Just sand, just rock, dry land, fast and silent."
-Matisyahu

Where can I have a green burial in Virginia?

In general, Green Burials in Virginia can take place at any designated Green Cemetery, or on a person’s private property (with permission, of course).

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, 72 percent of cemeteries are reporting an increased demand in Green Burials. The Green Burial Council keeps a directory of Natural Burial Grounds, green cemeteries located on natural preserves, and hybrid cemeteries that are designated for green burials. In Virginia it is lawful for property owners to have burials on their own land, and a casket is not required. Many cities and counties do have local ordinances about zoning and guidelines for grave plots, so it’s a good idea to check that as well.

“Choices can be made at each step of the death care process to limit waste, reduce the carbon footprint and even nourish the local ecosystem.” – from The New York Times.

How is green burial better for the environment?

Green cemeteries are often located on natural preserves, protecting the land for local wildlife, plants, and trees. Without chemical-heavy embalming, the body is allowed to decompose as nature intended, without releasing unnecessary toxins into the earth. Humans have been decomposing naturally for thousands of years, and green burial brings us back to this simple, even beautiful, return to the earth.

The most important thing about the return of green burial is that it gives people more options than they might have realized they had for meaningful ceremonies.

The popularity of green burial has made it clear that people want choices when it comes to the end of life, and the option of green burial is empowering them to make choices they can feel good about.

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Types of Green Burials

One of the beautiful things about Green Burials is that it really leaves room for a lot of imagination, with dozens of possibilities for how and in what people choose to be buried.

Here are some of the types of boxes and materials that Green Burials use:

  • Biodegradable Wooden Caskets
  • Cardboard Containers
  • Woven Casket/Baskets
  • Burial Garment, or “Shroud”
  • Tree Pods
  • Biodegradable Urns (for a Green Cremation)
  • Urns Designed to Dissolve in Water

And here are a few more unique green burial methods:

  • Burial in a mushroom suit
  • Aquamation
  • Sky burial
  • Sea burial

Plan Your Green Burial

If you are interested in a Green Burial in Virginia, you probably have a lot of questions! Sitting down with a planning director at your local funeral home is a quick and efficient way to get your questions answered and start planning, or pre-planning, an eco-friendly burial.

Sitting down with an Advanced Planning counselor at Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service can get you started on planning your Green Burial. Start now!

Published by Hartway March 3, 2021