Eco-Friendly Burials: What You Should Know

Jul 19, 2022 | Health Care Directives, Minnesota Estate Planning

Eco-friendly burials, or “green funerals,” have been garnering a lot of attention lately. More and more people are requesting these types of burials because they have a more limited impact on the environment, they are simpler, and they are often more cost-effective.

However, because there are a lot of different factors to consider, many people feel confused about eco-friendly burials, what they require, and whether a green funeral is right for them.

What Is an Eco-Friendly Burial?

Eco-friendly burials have a smaller impact on the environment. As such, in green funerals:

  • The body is not cremated.
  • The body is not embalmed.
  • The burial materials (caskets, shrouds, urns) are biodegradable.
  • Concrete vaults are not used to inter the body.
  • Land conservation and sustainable practices are taken into consideration.

Eco-friendly burials are by no means a new idea. Almost all burials that took place before the mid-19th century were what we would now consider “eco-friendly,” and many Jewish and Muslim burials still are.

What Are the Benefits of an Eco-Friendly Burial?

While many people are opting to have eco-friendly burials, they are certainly not the norm. As such, they will require a bit more planning and consideration. However, there are plenty of benefits, including:

  • Smaller carbon footprint – Natural burials allow the body to return to the earth organically. Mainstream burials, on the other hand, are incredibly resource-intensive, putting large amounts of metal, wood, and embalming fluid into the ground every day. Furthermore, cremations can use enough energy to power a 2,000 square-foot home for a week.
  • Less pollution – Cremations release a lot of pollutants into the air, including heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and heavy metals.
  • Lower cost – Green burials can be performed at around 20–30% of the cost of traditional funerals due to the fact that you are using fewer materials.
  • A more nature-conscious experience – A green funeral can be a way of reminding the attendees of their own connection with nature, which can have a comforting and healing effect.

Making a Traditional Burial More Eco-Friendly

If there isn’t a “green cemetery” nearby that will allow you to follow all the principles required to make a burial fully eco-friendly, there are still steps you can take to reduce a funeral’s environmental impact, such as:

  • Do not embalm the body. It is not required by law unless the body crosses state lines.
  • Use a biodegradable casket or shroud.
  • Don’t use a vault if the cemetery gives you an option
  • If a vault is required, request that the bottom be open or that holes be drilled in the bottom so that the body can return to the earth.

Document Your Wishes With a Minnesota Will Attorney

If you need help understanding the laws that are required in association with eco-friendly burials, it may be a good idea to speak to an attorney who has experience practicing in the areas of wills and trusts. They will be able to assist you with the planning and consideration of your options.  If you have questions or need help documenting your wishes for an eco-friendly burial, we are here to provide clarity and guidance. Simply contact our law firm at 763-244-2949 to schedule a consultation.