Green Burial NC: Your Guide to Natural Burial

When a loved one dies, most families want to hold a funeral that celebrates the life of their loved one. For many people, green burial is the perfect way to do this. Green burial is an environmentally friendly way to bury a body. It’s also called natural burial because it follows the natural decomposition process. This blog post will explore green burial in North Carolina and the options available to families.

What Is Green Burial?

Green burial is a return to the traditional way of burying our dead, much like our ancestors would have done. It is still the main form of final disposition in Judaica and Conservative Moslem sects.

With a green burial, family members or funeral home staff place a body in a simple shroud or casket made of sustainable materials. These biodegradable caskets or shrouds decompose when buried, permitting a more natural way for a body to return to the earth.

Natural burials make sense for those concerned about conventional burial and its environmental impact on our natural resources. Death is a part of our natural world; nature uses plants and soil to return bodily remains to a natural part of our environment.

The Green Burial Council (GBC) recently popularized the idea of green burial. The GBC, “an independent, nonprofit organization, aims to encourage sustainable deathcare. They also desire cemeteries to use the burial process as a means of acquiring, restoring, and stewarding natural areas.”

The GBC found specialized input from experts in these areas before making recommendations:

  • Restoration ecology
  • Sustainable landscape design
  • Conservation management and consumer affairs
  • Organizations like the Trust for Public Land and AARP

GMC’s standards require that “a burial ground be permanently protected via a conservation easement or deed restriction, and that an operator engage in restoration planning as well as adhere to a set of ecologically sound protocols.”(1)

Green Burial Council’s Green Burial Ground Criteria

  • Caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact aids in the conservation of natural resources
  • Reduction of carbon emissions
  • Protection of worker health
  • Restoration and/or preservation of habitat (2)

Because of the standards put forth by the GBC, cemeteries across the state have guidelines to help them create green cemeteries or a green burial section in a traditional cemetery.

A conservation cemetery uses biodegradable burial containers to develop a conservation burial ground. Burial grounds using green burial methods reduce carbon dioxide and create a place where graves and cremated remains can live together on one natural site.

Why Would You Choose Green Burial?

There are many reasons why people choose green burial for themselves or their loved ones. For some, it’s an environmentally friendly choice. Green burials use less land and resources than traditional burials. This is because most green burials don’t use large caskets.

Less Expense

Like cremation, a green burial may cost less since the cemetery costs are much less. This is because there are no vaults or concrete boxes required. You don’t need to purchase an expensive burial container.

Casket Concerns

Metal caskets do not naturally return to the earth. A biodegradable casket allows the body to decompose naturally and quickly.

Embalming Not Necessary

Even though embalming can preserve bodies, it does so with a cost. Embalming fluids contain toxic chemicals that conservation specialists do not recommend.

“Typically, embalming fluid contains a mixture of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol, and other solvents. The formaldehyde content generally ranges from 5 to 37 percent and the methanol content may range from 9 to 56 percent.” (3)

The United States uses 5.3 million gallons of embalming fluid annually. (4)

Burial Ground for Green Burial NC

If you’re interested in planning a green burial using biodegradable materials at a natural burial ground, consider these cemeteries as a conservation site for the burial of your remains.

A limited number of cemeteries in North Carolina offer green burial, burial of cremated remains, or scattering of ashes. Some of these cemeteries include: 

All Souls Natural Burial Ground, Greensboro, NC


Bluestem Cemetery, Cedar Grove, NC


Historic Oakwood Cemetery. Raleigh, NC


Pine Forest Memorial Gardens, Wake Forest, NC


Conserving Carolina Conservation Easement at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary in Mills River, NC


We Can Help

If you or a loved one likes the idea of a biodegradable casket, beautiful native plants and trees, and promoting conservation even in death, talk to us at Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory

We can help you make plans that are right for you and your family, including green burial! Contact us today to get started with your end-of-life plans.