Overview – the shift from traditional funerals to cremation, to natural burial
There is an increasing demand for more affordable, and yet sustainable, death care practices. Cremation has completely disrupted the traditional death care industry in the United States in the last decade. Largely, cremation simply became a more affordable alternative for many families who could not afford to pay for a full traditional funeral.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA 2019) the average cost of a traditional American funeral is $7,640. Yet, this does not include any cemetery costs, which would bring the cost to nearer to $10,000. The average cost of a cremation funeral is $5,150. So, we can immediately see the savings.
Traditional burial is not environmentally-friendly. It involves chemicals, steel, and concrete being entombed in the earth. The process of embalming is unnatural and largely unnecessary. It is NOT legally required in any state unless there is public health concern. Even funeral home staff expose themselves to risk by working with these poisonous chemicals.
Cremation seemed to offer a more sustainable alternative. Yet, cremation needs an energy source and sends emissions into the environment. The average cremation uses as much gas as a 500-mile car journey. In addition, the emissions from burning synthetic materials, such as body implants and mercury dental fillings contributes to air-borne mercury pollution.
Why Green Burial?
We all know that climate change is real. Maybe, we feel it is our politicians’ concern, or it is not going to affect us and ours. But, simply changing a death care choice to a natural burial could have a massive impact on greenhouse gas emissions and ensure our final legacy is one of unity and positivity for the planet.
Recent surveys have indicated that more Americans are interested in a green funeral, but there have been limited options.
We want to change that and help make green burial a realistic and empowering choice for Texans. So, we have put together this guide to help you learn more, and understand more, about what green burial choices you have in Texas.
According to Joe Sehee, founder of the Green Burial Council “This concept resonates with Texans more than any other state. Those favoring the green option here often are not doing it as a final act of environmental activism, he said, but out of a desire to be close to the land, to return to biblical practices or as an alternative to embalming without choosing cremation.”
We have researched green burial service providers in Texas. Some of these may be green burial sites that will assist you in conducting your green funeral. Others are funeral service providers who offer a natural burial package, and will help you conduct a natural preparation of your loved one, ready for transfer to a green cemetery in Texas.
What does it cost for a natural burial?
There are three factors to considering the cost of a green burial. Firstly, let’s look at the cost of a green burial plot. You can purchase a single burial plot, a companion plot, or a family plot. Prices for plots differ at the green burial sites in Texas, but it is fair to say that a single plot can be purchased for as little as $300, although the average cost of a green burial plot is closer to $1,400. In addition to purchasing the actual grave plot, the natural burial site may charge a small open/close plot fee. In other words, you purchase a plot of land for the grave, and then they charge you the cost to dig the grave when the burial occurs. This fee is usually between $300 – $600.
Questions about a natural burial in Texas, call your Texas Green Burial Adviser on (877) 354-2102.
Secondly, you need to consider some kind of biodegradable burial receptacle. The basic options are a simple wood pine casket, wicker, willow or bamboo casket, pressed cardboard, or a linen burial shroud. What you choose will determine your cost. You also need to check with your natural burial cemetery, as they may have a preference for what receptacles they accept.
A burial shroud will cost $300, and for a biodegradable wicker or bamboo casket the costs range from $900 to $1,500.
Finally, you need to decide whether you will employ the services of a funeral director. There are a number of green funeral service providers in Texas. Their professional services include: collecting the deceased, storage in refrigeration as required, obtaining the death certificate and any burial or transport permit required, and transporting the deceased to the burial ground for interment. The average funeral home service charge for a green funeral in Texas is between $2,000 to $4,000.
Of course, there is no legal requirement to employ a funeral director, and you can apply to the county for the death certificate and burial permit, conduct a home (DIY) funeral by keeping the deceased on dry ice (permitted for 24 hours), and arranging your own transportation of the body to the green burial site.
Death certificates cost $20.00, and burial permits are either no cost, or a small fee.
Reviewing these aspects of green funeral costs – we can estimate that a simple, home, DIY green burial could be conducted for under $1,500. However, if you elect to use the services of a funeral home, and depending on the cemetery and casket costs, a green funeral could cost between $2,500 and $3,500.
How many green funeral service providers are there in Texas?
This is difficult to determine as not all funeral homes that offer green funeral services list those services on their website. As interest is growing in natural burial options, there are more funeral homes now beginning to cater to this demand as well. The Green Burial Council lists one provider in San Antonio, and A Greener Funeral.org lists five green funeral homes in Texas.
I undertook my own research and have included below listings for the green funeral service providers that I could locate in Texas.
How do we locate a green funeral service provider?
An important starting point is to ‘choose which shade of green’ you aspire to. The most conservationist natural burial possible, or are you content to have a simple, natural burial in a hybrid cemetery? Hybrid cemeteries are traditional cemeteries that have designated a ‘green’ section for natural burial. Conservation burial grounds (CBG) and natural burial parks (NB) adhere to stricter rules about restoring the natural habitat and wildlife of an area. They may specify certain restrictions on burial receptacles and memorial markers.
How do I find a green cemetery in Texas?
You can use our directory of green burial sites to locate a green cemetery in Texas. Ethician Family Cemetery in Texas is an extensive conservation burial ground with 4 cemeteries. It operates as a not-for-profit Church Foundation offering affordable burials, and even free burials, (supported by donations from benefactors) within its four cemeteries. They even have a designated cemetery for veterans, and for children who die young, or in unfortunate circumstances. The Ethician cemetery is a life-long philanthropic endeavor of George Russell and his wife. The usual donation charge for a burial plot is $1,000, but as it operates as a charity, burial plot fees can be as low as $300. The foundation will even fund a burial plot if the situation of the family, or individual, need help with laying their loved one to rest.
The conservation burial ground covers 3,000 acres of wildlife sanctuaries and botanical preserves on 12 miles of shoreline on Lake Livingston. Ethician Family Cemetery has a 10 acre Chapel of the Nativity site along with a Buddhist Temple, where they also accept cremated remains for burial or scattering. The cemetery merely asks for the name and information about the deceased for their cemetery records.
As the 3,000 acres is a dedicated wildlife preserve, it also hosts an Institute For Strategic Biospheric Studies and can offer accommodation at its guest houses in the Rain Lily Sanctuary, for those who wish to visit.
Eloise Woods Community Natural Burial Park, set in 9.4 acres of beautiful Texas countryside close to Austin, was founded in 2009 by Ellen McDonald. Although, not a funeral director, Ellen was inspired by the notion of creating a natural burial park that would allow families to bury their loved ones and feel more connected to the natural landscape.
The natural burial park has wooded areas, gardens and meadows, along with walking trails. Burials are conducted in biodegradable caskets or shrouds, and small organic memorial markers are permitted.
A single burial plot costs $2,800 with opening and closing costs at $1,200. Burying cremated remains costs $800.
Can I conduct a natural burial on my own land?
Yes, it is perfectly legal to use your own land as a cemetery in Texas. According to the Texas Health and safety code, you can declare your own cemetery on private land. The land must remain under 10 acres to avoid the complex cemetery licensing laws that regulate the funeral industry. Each county or municipality may have zoning laws that govern the establishment of a family cemetery, so you should check with your county clerk to determine any ‘rules’ that may apply in your county.
It is recommended (and even sometimes required) to file with the property deed a map marking the burial location.
Texas law requires that a body not finally disposed of within 24 hours after death, be embalmed, refrigerated, or placed in an approved, sealed container. To ensure a natural burial, arrangements should be made to inter the body on your own land within 24 hours after the passing.
Visit our Green Burials section to read more articles about natural burial, DIY Home Funerals, biodegradable burial products, and making your own natural burial receptacle.
Questions about a natural burial in Texas, call your Texas Green Burial Adviser on (877) 354-2102.
Green Funerals in the news in Texas
|Funeral Home – offering Green Funeral||Location||Address||Phone||Green Funeral Costs|
|The Hamil Family Funeral Home||Abilene||6449 Buffalo Gap Road||(325) 692-2232|
|Affordable Burial & Cremation Service||Austin||5201 Steinbeck Bend Road||(512) 354-2509||Starts at $2,095|
|Austin Natural Funerals||Austin||2206 W Anderson Lane||(512) 851-1236||From $3,515|
|Corley Funeral Home||Corsicana||418 N 13th Street||(903) 874-3755|
|Lucas Funeral Home||Greater DFW area||1601 S Main Street||(817) 284-7271|
|Local Cremation & Funerals||Greater DFW Area||8499 Greenville Avenue||(214) 343-4040|
|Roberts Family Affordable Funeral Home||Fort Worth||5025 Jacksboro Highway||(817) 528-1880||$995 ($1,195 for cemetery plot)|
|Robertson Muller Harper Funeral Directors||Fort Worth||1500 8th Avenue||(817) 924-4233|
|SimpleCremation.org||Fort Worth||4301 E Loop 820 S||(855) 978-5813||Offers green water cremation for $1,985|
|Beresford Funeral Service||Houston||13501 Alief Clodine Road||(281) 933-9090||Starts at $5,695|
|Bradshaw Carter Funeral Services||Houston||1734 W Alabama St||(713) 804-7395|
|Deer Park Funeral Directors||Houston||336 E San Augustine Street||(281) 476-4868|
|Joseph J. Earthman Generations||Houston||234 Westcott Street||(713) 802-0000|
|Falcon Family Funeral Home||Killen/Temple||2006 N W S Young Drive, Killen||(254) 200-0400||Starts at $2,095|
|Lake Shore Funeral Home||Waco||13009 Dessau Road, Austin||(254) 752-5900|
|Porter Loring Mortuaries||San Antonio||1101 McCullogh||(210) 227-8221|
|Legends Tri-County Funeral Services||San Marcos||101-B Centerpoint Road||(512) 256-1220|