Green Burial

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What Is a Green or Natural Burial?

Green burial is designed to have minimal environmental impact and conserve natural resources. Also called natural burial or eco-friendly burial, green burial emphasizes simplicity and sustainability. Green or natural burial means there are no chemicals or non-biodegradable materials to disrupt the natural partnership between the body and soil in returning nutrients to the ecosystem. In a typical green burial, the body is not cremated, prepared with chemicals, or buried in a concrete vault. It is simply placed in a biodegradable container and interred in a gravesite to decompose fully and return to nature.

Where Can a Green Burial Take Place?

Green burial can happen in cemeteries exclusively designed for it, in traditional cemeteries of a hybrid nature that accommodate green burials, or in conservation burial grounds which leverage green burial opportunities to support natural land conservation in perpetuity. Burial plots may be purchased at a cemetery in advance or at-need. Vermont offers the following locations:

  • Hybrid Cemeteries
    • Robinson Cemetery (Calais)
    • Ainsworth and Fairview Cemeteries (East Calais)
    • Westlook II Cemetery (Glover)
    • Bisson Cemetery (Plainfield)
    • Green Mount Cemetery (Montpelier)
    • Corinth Municipal Cemeteries-all 8 (Corinth)
    • Hazen Westview Cemetery (North Hero)
    • Meetinghouse Hill Cemetery (West Brattleboro)
  • Natural Burial Grounds
    • Vermont Forest Cemetery (Roxbury)
  • Conservation Burial Ground
    • Higher Ground Conservation Cemetery (Williamsville)

A green or natural burial may also take place on privately owned land if the zoning and local laws do not prohibit it. It is important to understand that burying on private property constitutes establishing a private family cemetery that will need to be documented and registered with the town. See your local town official well in advance to discuss the process for your intention.

When Can A Green Burial Take Place?

It is generally recommended that burial take place within 3 days after death occurs. Green burial can take place year-round in Vermont except when ground frost levels are prohibitive for digging. Designated green, natural or conservation cemeteries (listed above) will have staff to dig the grave, however, many will accommodate families wishing to participate in part or all of the process. Burials on private property may be dug by hand or with equipment. Our staff can arrange for this service if needed.

A Hallmark Green Burial

  • No chemicals in cleansing and preparation of the body
  • A burial shroud made of 100% natural fiber such as cotton, hemp and wool or green casket
  • A burial plot in a green, hybrid, or conservation cemetery or legally registered burial plot on private land
  • Burial service with or without a celebrant 
  • The body, wrapped in a shroud, is lowered into the grave with the support of an untreated, wood bodyboard and natural fiber rope.
  • Burial ground with or without grave marker (each cemetery will have rules and regulations for this)

Green Burial Caskets 

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Green caskets or body boards made of plain wood are acceptable – and encouraged – at most green cemeteries. Natural pine boxes similar to this are crafted at our facility with locally sourced soft wood.

Green Burial Shrouds

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Burial shrouds we offer are made from 100% natural fiber without chemical treatment or dyes and completely covers the body.

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