Green burial offers us the opportunity to return to a more ‘natural’ burial practice that was once the norm. A natural burial where no chemicals, steel caskets, or concrete burial vaults are used. Where there is minimum intervention, and the body is simply wrapped in a biodegradable shroud or container and buried in an earth grave plot. This minimalist approach is what makes a natural burial both eco-friendly and affordable. This guide aims to answer some of the questions you may have about green burials, including cost and where to find green burial options in Florida.
Why choose a Green Burial?
As briefly mentioned above, green burial has two main advantages:
- It is less harmful to the environment than both traditional burial and cremation.
- It is typically more affordable than a traditional burial as you eliminate the expensive casket, burial vault, and embalming process.
Traditional funerals account for 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid, 20 million board feet of hardwood, and 1.6 million tons of concrete being entombed into the earth in the United States each year. [These figures are likely diminishing as the cremation rate in the U.S. is increasing.] Cremation emits almost 700 million pounds of CO2 annually in the U.S.
It is easy to see how both traditional funerals and cremations carry a detriment to the future of our planet, whereas a natural burial offers a more sustainable alternative by returning a body to the earth in the most natural way possible.
What makes a burial Green?
Essentially, a burial is classed as green if all aspects that are negative to the environment are removed. This means no embalming and no use whatsoever of harmful chemicals, only using a biodegradable burial container, no use of concrete burial vaults, and protecting the natural landscape. At some natural burial sites, this also means not using a typical grave marker and actively conserving the natural habitat.
How much does a Natural Burial cost in Florida?
As already mentioned, a natural burial costs less than a traditional burial as many of the costly items typically associated with a burial are eliminated. However, the demand for green burial plots remains relatively low, predominately as people have yet to realize that natural burial is an option or understand the benefits.
Burial in a natural burial preserve or green cemetery can cost between $1,000 and $4,000. This usually includes a burial plot, the fees to open and close the grave, a stone marker, and a one-time charge to endow a perpetual care fund (to maintain the property as a natural burial site).
Typically, this does not include the cost of a funeral or memorial service and any processing or transporting of the body by a funeral home or mortuary.
There is, however, no legal requirement to employ a funeral director, and you can apply to the county for the death certificate and burial permit, conduct a funeral at home by keeping the deceased on dry ice (permitted for 24 hours), and arrange for your own transportation of the body to the green burial site.
You can order a death certificate through the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics for $15.00 (includes a $5.00 search fee for one calendar year and a $10 rush fee), with a $4.00 fee for additional copies. Florida law requires you to file the death certificate with the local registrar within five days of the death and before final disposition. After the death certificate has been filed, the county chief deputy registrar will issue a burial-transit permit that allows you to move the body for purposes of burial or cremation. You must obtain this permit within five days after death and before final disposition.
What kind of burial container is considered ‘green’?
Any completely biodegradable container can be used. However, certain cemeteries may have guidelines or restrictions on what will be accepted as a green burial container. Common green burial products are wicker or bamboo woven fiber caskets that resemble a basket type of casket.
Simple wood caskets can be used with no metal nails or handles. To be truly sustainable, no toxic glue or varnish should be used in the production of a wood casket.
Woven or wood caskets can cost between $450 to $1,800. You could even opt to build your own DIY homemade wood burial container. Especially if you (or someone you know) are handy at word-working.
Cardboard containers are also widely used. These are cheap to purchase, very lightweight, and can be very easily decorated and personalized in memory of the deceased. A cardboard coffin can usually be purchased for $150 or less.
How to find a Green Burial cemetery in Florida?
You can visit our Green Burial Directory for listings of all Green Burial Grounds in the United States. Use the map to locate the natural burial sites in Florida. There are 6 known green burial cemeteries at present.
How to find a Green Funeral Provider in Florida?
If you decide that you would prefer to employ a funeral director, there are a number of funeral service providers in Florida that now offer green burial service packages. The number of funeral homes offering these services is growing as the interest in natural burial increases.
The table below includes many of the Funeral providers in Florida who state that they offer Green burial services, however, their price will not generally include the cost of the actual burial plot at a Natural Cemetery. Their services will usually include the funeral or memorial service and the processing or transporting of the body to the Green Cemetery.
Many funeral homes (not listed below) will be able to accommodate natural burial in a Green Cemetery.
|Funeral Home – offering green funeral||Location||Address||Phone||Green Funeral Costs|
|All County Funeral Home & Crematory||Lake Worth||1107 Lake Avenue||(561) 533-8878|
|Countryside Funeral Home||Anthony||9185 NE Jacksonville Road||(352) 620-2006|
|ICS Cremation & Funeral Home||Lake City||357 Nw Wilks Lane||(386) 443-6866|
|Naugle Funeral Home & Cremation Services||Jacksonville||1203 Hendricks Avenue||(904) 682-9643||Starts at $3495|
|Van Orsdel Funeral & Cremation Services||Miami (locations in Kendall & Coral Gables||3333 NE 2nd Ave||(305) 573-4310|
|Williams-Thomas Funeral Homes||Gainesville (locations in Newberry & Hawthorne)||404 N. Main St.||(352) 376-7556|
The majority of the funeral homes listed above facilitate natural burial at Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery.
Prairie Creek is located near Gainesville and is both a natural burial cemetery and a nature preserve founded in 2007. It is operated as a non-profit community cemetery and protected conservation area in collaboration with Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT). There are 93 acres of paths and hiking trails alongside the 606 acres of the ACT Prairie Creek Preserve. The land consists of both forest and meadow being returned to its most natural habitat to encourage the conservation (and restoration) of native fauna, flora, and wildlife.
The cost for a burial plot is $2,000 for a full-body burial or $650 for cremated remains burial. This fee includes the placement of a small brass marker to identify the burial plot.
If you would like to inquire about a natural burial plot or have further questions about green burial in Florida, call now at (833) 402-9077.
Is cremation green?
Cremation is considered a ‘greener’ alternative to a traditional full-service funeral. The use of embalming toxins, steel caskets, concrete burial vaults, and ornate granite markers is eliminated. Cremation does, however, require a lot of energy to power the cremation retort and creates carbon emissions. A single cremation is said to be equivalent to the carbon emissions of a 500-mile car trip. Harmful mercury emissions from dental fillings are also released into the environment.
There are greener cremation alternatives entering the disposition market. Water cremation, a process of Alkaline hydrolysis to reduce the body with water and heat, is now available in 20 states, including Florida. It is also referred to as Bio Cremation or resomation. You can learn more about aquamation by reading our guide to Bio Cremation. Aqua cremation costs between $1,500 to $3,500.
Choosing between cremation or natural burial
Cremation remains the number one disposition choice for families in Florida, with a cremation rate of 62.7 percent. As mentioned above, it is certainly a greener alternative to a traditional burial and still provides the option to have the cremated remains buried in a natural burial ground if you wish.
Many green burial cemeteries provide options for interring or scattering cremated remains. Cremation ashes are organic and sterile and generally pose no threat to the environment.
However, some conservation burial areas may have ordinances governing the scattering of ashes due to managing the alkalinity of the soil. Cremation ashes are naturally alkaline due to the high levels of calcium phosphate and sodium they contain.
Can you carry out a natural burial on your own private land in California?
No state laws in Florida prohibit green burial on private property. According to information from the Division of Funeral, Cemetery & Consumer Services, the state allows families to establish their own cemeteries if they are less than two acres and do not offer burial spaces for sale. Be sure to check local zoning ordinances.
What does Green Burial Council GBC certified mean?
The Green Burial Council was established in 2005 by Joe Sehee as a non-profit educational organization to help advocate, lead, steward and educate in all matters concerning green burial. The GBC’s values and vision are to provide universal standards for sustainable death care, access to information, and certification.
The standards for certification offered by the Green Burial Council ensure that the public can trust the service levels delivered by GBC-certified providers to meet a benchmark level of standard practice.
Cemetery certification standards help us to categorize green burial sites into 3 categories – Hybrid Cemetery, Natural Burial Ground, and Conservation Burial Ground.
You can read more about these categories and definitions in our Guide to Green Burial.
If you have further questions about arranging a green burial in Florida, feel free to contact us by email or call (833) 402-9077.