Conventional burials in the US today leave a considerable carbon footprint. Each burial requires: a hardwood casket (which usually includes synthetic interior and metal and plastic hardware), a concrete burial vault, backhoe machinery to open and close the grave, fertilizers and lawnmowers to maintain the cemetery grounds and metal or concrete grave markers.
WHAT IS A GREEN BURIAL IN CALIFORNIA?
A green burial is, “a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat.” – Green Burial Council
‘GREEN’ and ‘NATURAL BURIAL’ REQUIREMENTS
- The body is not embalmed
- The burial container or shroud is made of 100% biodegradable materials
- The casket or shroud is not placed inside a concrete vault but goes directly into the grave where decomposition can take place naturally
- Graves are not maintained but become part of the natural habitat
- There are no headstones but natural rocks, plants or GPS coordinates mark the gravesite
Green Burial plots are purchased directly from the cemetery. Sacred Crossings is happy to assist you in locating the cemetery to meet your needs. Please see our complete list of green burial cemeteries in California below.
GREEN FULL-BODY SEA BURIALS
A Full-Body Burial at Sea complies with the green burial standards with the added benefit that no burial plot is required.
The body is not embalmed, is wrapped in 100% natural sailcloth shroud, weighted with river rocks and buried in Federal waters six miles from shore at a minimum depth of 600”.
Sacred Crossings Funeral Home offers this natural burial option from most ports in Southern California. Visit our full-body sea burials page for details.
GREEN BURIAL CEMETERIES IN CALIFORNIA
- Cayetano Natural Burial Ground (Tulocay)
- Creston Cemetery (San Luis Obispo)
- Greenlawn Memorial Park (Colma)
- Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum (Davis)
- Fallbrook Masonic Cemetery (Fallbrook)
- Hillside Memorial Park (Los Angeles)
- Joshua Tree Memorial Park (Joshua Tree)
- Morgan Oaks Eternal Preserve (Lincoln)
- Purissima Cemetery (San Mateo County)
- Sunset Lawn (Sacramento)
- Woodlawn Cemetery (Santa Monica)
For a complete list of green burial cemeteries in the US, visit here.
For more information about our natural burial services, please call: 800-805-5561
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT NATURAL BURIALS IN CALIFORNIA
Are Green Burials Cheaper Than Traditional Burials?
The main cost of a burial plot is determined by the location of the cemetery. Cemeteries in urban areas, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco have higher priced plots than in smaller, rural communities. Quite simply, real estate is more expensive in cities.
A Green Burial Plot can be similarly priced as a conventional burial plot, however, a green burial does not require a vault (grave-liner) or a hard-wood casket and in many cemeteries the family can dig the grave and close the grave themselves saving on backhoe machinery and cemetery staff.
How Deep is a Green Burial?
The ideal burial depth for optimal decomposition conditions is 3.5 – 4 feet. Many people are concerned that animals and large birds may try to dig up a grave if they can smell the remains, however, no odor can be detected under 24”. Also, when the grave is filled in, the displaced earth creates a large mound which doubles the depth. This mound will settle usually within a year.
Are Green Burials Legal in California?
Green Burials are legal throughout California. The most significant difference between a green burial and conventional burial is that the body can decompose naturally in a green burial because it is in direct contact with the earth and not contained within a burial vault. Cemeteries must abide by strict regulations concerning distance from a water source and as long as the body is not embalmed there is no risk of contamination.
What is the difference between a Green Burial and a Natural Burial?
A Green Burial must comply with the strict regulations of the Green Burial Council which was created to ensure that the term is used correctly and standards are maintained. No burial vault. No embalming. Only biodegradable materials may be buried. No headstone. Graves become part of the natural habitat. A Green Burial takes place in a certified Green Burial cemetery.
A Natural Burial adheres to the same principals as a green burial in that there is no burial vault and the body decomposes naturally, however a Natural Burial may take place in a conventional cemetery where the grounds are maintained and a headstone or marker is placed. Caskets also do not have to comply with the strict Green Burial Council regulations such as no metal (nails, screws) and no glue, so a family can construct their own casket for a natural burial.
What Are The Benefits of a Green or Natural Burial?
The main benefit of choosing a green or natural burial is that your body will decompose naturally and return to the earth. You will significantly reduce your carbon footprint by choosing green burial because: hardwood from rainforests will not be harvested, shipping wood from long distances will not be required, metal, plastic and toxic glues will not be utilized, machinery needed to make and deliver concrete will not be necessary, and fertilizers, excess water or lawn mowers will not be needed to maintain cemetery grounds.
LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION?
If you are located in the Los Angeles County area and are interested in learning more about green burial options, please contact us today. Our funeral home is owned and operated by certified death midwives committed to maintaining the sacred while supporting you and your loved ones with care and compassion. We specialize in green, environmentally sensitive products and after-death care practices. Contact us today.
We are proud to serve Los Angeles, Orange County, Long Beach, Pasadena, Ventura, Santa Monica, and the surrounding areas.
Our Administrative Office Location:
28310 Roadside Drive, Suite 211, Agoura Hills, CA 91301