Within the last few years, more than 50% of Americans have expressed interest in green burial. In response to these changing trends, funeral homes have begun exploring eco-friendly ways to meet the service needs of these families.
While burial planning may not be top of mind for you and your family, it’s never too early to explore your options and express final wishes, especially when it comes to your lasting environmental legacy.
So, if you’re looking for ways to cut down your carbon footprint, here’s everything you need to know about green burial in Ohio, including certified cemeteries, providers and products.
But first, what is green burial?
According to the Green Burial Council (GBC):
“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.”
Conventional cemeteries that allow embalmed bodies and require concrete, plastic, metal, or other materials for caskets, vaults and liners do not fall under the general category of green.
Types of Green Burial Sites
While there are some shared characteristics, it’s important to understand the differences in green burial cemeteries as defined by GBC. These include:
- Conservation Burial Grounds: A natural cemetery established in partnership with a conservation organization. This includes a conservation management plan that upholds best practices and provides protection of the land according to a conservation easement or restriction.
- Hybrid Cemeteries: A conventional cemetery that offers the essential aspects of green burial within a designated section. This type of cemetery does not require vaults, but must allow for any kind of eco-friendly container, such as a shroud or casket.
- Natural Burial Grounds: A cemetery dedicated in full to green burial sustainable practices that conserve energy, minimize waste, and forbid toxic chemicals in the form of containers and markers.
There are also differences in the cemetery standards set forth by GBC for each of these lands. For instance, natural burial and conservation burial grounds are required to limit the type and size of memorial markers, so they do not impair the surrounding ecological conditions. Hybrid cemeteries, however, are not required to do so.
Certified cemeteries must demonstrate compliance to preserve and steward land through green burial best practices. These include:
- Obtain GBC certification for any funeral home that operates on the premises.
- Compile a list of native plants based on a defined ecological assessment to use as memorial features and to enhance plant diversity on the site.
- Develop a plan for protecting or salvaging rare plants identified in the ecological impact assessment.
- Minimize the use of chemicals, such as pesticides and herbicides, for property management.
- Provide a plan for dealing with unauthorized grave decorating and landscaping in the cemetery’s maintenance and operations manual.
The GBC also offers certification programs for providers and products.
Certified Green Cemeteries in Ohio
When it comes to green burial, you’ll want to look into the certified cemeteries in your area. Ohio is home to conservation, hybrid and natural burial grounds, cemeteries and preserves. Locations include:
- Canton Cemetery Association North Lawn Cemetery (Canton, OH)
- Foxfield Preserve Nature Cemetery (Wilmot, OH)
- Glen Forest Cemetery (Yellow Springs, OH)
- Preble Memory Gardens Cemetery (West Alexandria, OH)
While many funeral homes claim they support green burial practices, you’ll want to make sure the provider is certified.
A GBC-approved funeral home must define in their general price list, and make reference to on any published platform, their green offerings. They must also:
- Offer families the option of a public viewing without embalming, or use only GBC-approved post-mortem fluids.
- Carry three or more GBC-approved burial containers.
- Accommodate families choosing to conduct home vigils prior to viewing on site without embalming.
- Offer sanitation and temporary preservation of the deceased using only non-invasive materials and techniques.
To ensure the funeral home is up to date with GBC standards, visit Find a Provider to review certified providers in your area.
There are also a variety of products associated with green burial that you can purchase online and offline, including adornments, caskets, containers, liners, urns, shells and shrouds. However, not all products are GBC-approved.
Because of this, GBC requires that products be constructed from plant-derived, natural, animal or unfired earthen materials. Other requirements for products include:
- Finishes and adhesives of the product must not release toxic by-products in the facility where the product is manufactured, or in the location where the product is decomposed.
- Finishes and adhesives of the product must not contain acrylics, plastics or synthetic polymeric materials.
- Shells must be made in an environmentally sustainable manner that is certified by a third-party trusted provider, or reclaimed or recycled materials.
- Transportation of the materials to the manufacturing location and the transportation of the finished product to the consumer must not exceed 3,000
Before making any purchases, visit Find Products to evaluate certified product sellers and manufacturers.
Arrange Green Burial Services with Busch
Busch Funeral and Crematory Services is one of the only GBC-certified funeral homes in Ohio. If you or your family is interested in green burial, contact Busch to let a member of our caring staff guide you through every step. No matter your request, we will work hard to fulfill your green burial service needs.