Green Funerals today – 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 completely disrupted the traditional death care industry in the United States over 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. This guide to Green Burial in Ohio should assist you to learn more about arranging a Green Funeral.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA 2022), the average cost of a traditional American funeral is $7,848. Yet, this does not include any cemetery costs, which would bring the cost nearer to $10,000.
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 a 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 that 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, contribute to air-borne mercury pollution. Gas prices are also on the rise, which is likely to mean that flame cremation will become more expensive in the coming years.
This all leads us to embrace the true ‘green’ sustainable, least impact death care option – a simple, natural burial.
Why Consider a 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 (62%) are interested in a green funeral, but to date, there have been limited options.
We want to change that and help make green burial a realistic and empowering choice for everyone. So, we have put together this guide to help you learn more and understand what green burial choices you have in Ohio and the Tri-State area.
We have researched green burial service providers and natural burial cemeteries in Ohio. 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 Ohio.
What does it cost for a natural burial?
There are four main factors to consider in the cost of a green burial. Purchase of a grave plot, cemetery fees for digging (opening & closing the plot), a burial receptacle, and any funeral professional service charge.
Green Burial Plot Prices
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. Most natural burial sites also offer the burial (or scattering) of cremation ashes, as this may be a preferred ‘green’ final resting place, and cremation ashes are natural organic matter.
Prices for plots differ at the green burial sites, but it is fair to say that a single plot can be purchased for as little as $550, although the average cost of a green burial plot is closer to $2,500. Cremains burial costs around $750.
Cemetery Open & Close Fees
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.
Plot Open & Close fees are usually between $300 – $800.
Choosing a Biodegradable Burial Container
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.
Do you need to employ the services of a funeral director for a green burial?
Finally, you need to decide whether you will employ the services of a funeral director. There are a number of funeral service providers in Ohio offering green funeral services. 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 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. Most natural burial sites in Ohio will offer assistance with the interment of the deceased.
Death certificates cost $25.00 each, and burial permits are either at 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 $3,000. 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 $3,500 and $4,995.
How many green funeral service providers are there in Ohio?
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.
I undertook my own research and have included below a table listing green funeral service providers that I could locate in Ohio.
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 Ohio?
You can use our Green Burial directory to view locations and details of green burial sites. Below, we have included some information on some of the natural burial cemeteries.
Foxfield Preserve – NE Ohio
Located in NE Ohio just south of Akron, Foxfield Preserve is a Conservation Burial Ground (CBG) established in 2008. It is situated on 43 acres of beautiful conservation land and is deemed one of the very few specialist Conservation Burial Grounds in the U.S.
A burial plot costs $4,000.
Kokosing Nature Preserve (Kenyon College) – Central Ohio
Situated to the northeast of Columbus is another exemplar of conservation burial. Kokosing Nature Preserve sits on 23 acres of conservation land consisting of restored prairies and woodlands. This unique conservation burial ground (CBG) is the first such established as part of a university land conservancy in 2000.
A burial plot costs $2,500 (+ $2,500 towards land conservancy).
Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary – West Ohio
Located in Cincinnati and recently established in 2020, Heritage Acres sits on 40 acres, made up of 60 percent meadowland and 40 percent forest. The Green Burial Council has awarded it Natural Burial (NB) status.
A burial plot costs $3,000.
Preble Memory Gardens Cemetery – West Ohio
To the west of Dayton lies Preble Memory Gardens, with an established 30 acres of Conservation Burial Grounds (CBG) established in 2013.
A burial plot costs $550.
Glen Forest Natural Burial Cemetery & Oak Grove – West Central Ohio
Located in Yellow Springs between Columbus and Dayton are Glen Forest and the newly established Oak Grove featuring 1000 burial plots. The cemetery originates from 1823, and the newer designated Natural Burial sections were established in 2013 to meet the need for offering green funeral options. Oak Grove features 70 special plots where a new oak tree will be planted to benefit from the nutrients embedded in the soil.
Burial plots at Glen Forest are priced at $1,500, and plots in Oak Grove are priced at $750. The 70 designated ‘special’ Oak Tree plots cost $3,000 each.
Can I conduct a natural burial on my own land?
Yes, it is perfectly legal to use your own land as a cemetery in Ohio. The Attorney General has stated that no board of township trustees may prohibit a burial on private property. This has previously been a somewhat contentious issue, with townships arguing that the interment of a single family member did not constitute the Ohio cemetery legislature governing “family cemeteries.” And that most registered cemeteries, by law, had to set up a $50,000 in perpetuity endowment fund to operate a cemetery.
It is recommended (and even sometimes required) to file with the property deed a map marking the burial location. And consideration should be given to how this may affect the property value and family legacy should the property be sold at a later date.
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.
If you have further questions about a natural burial in Ohio, you can call the Ohio Green Burial Adviser at (330) 366-2646.
Funeral Service Providers offering Green Funeral Services in Ohio
|City||Funeral Home||Price*||Phone Number|
|Cleveland||Zeis-McGreevey Funeral Homes||$4,995||(216) 221-0220|
|Cleveland||Busch Funeral Homes||(800) 252-8724|
|Cleveland||Nosek-McCreery Funeral & Cremation||(440) 526-6050|
|Cleveland||Berry-McGreevey Funeral Home||$4,995||(440) 617-1911|
|Cleveland||Behm Family Funeral Home||(440) 428-4401|
|Akron||Bissler & Sons||$4,485||(330) 673-5857|
|Akron||Billow Fairlawn Chapel||(330) 867-4141|
|NE Ohio||Becker Funeral Homes||(330) 755-2111|
|Mt Vernon||Snyder Funeral Homes||(740) 392-6956|
|Columbus||Edwards Funeral Service||$2,995||(614) 444-3200|
|Columbus||Schoedinger Funeral Homes (Dignity Memorial)||(614) 224-6105|
|Dayton||Conroy Funeral Home||(937) 324-4973|
|Dayton||Routsong Funeral Home||(937) 293-4137|
|Cincinnati||Weil Kahn Funeral Home||(513) 469-9345|
|Athens||Hughes-Moquin Funeral Home||(740) 592-6666|
Other Green Alternatives available in Ohio – Water Cremation or Aquamation
At present, aquamation is not legal in Ohio. It was introduced by Edwards Funeral Service some years ago, but a lengthy lawsuit resulted in Edwards having to cease operating a facility to conduct water cremation in Ohio.
Edwards Funeral Home continues to offer this service to families who seek this ‘greener’ cremation alternative. However, the deceased is transported to a neighboring state for the aquamation process to be carried out. This has increased the cost of a water cremation to residents of Ohio.
A water cremation service package costs $2,495.
Green Funerals in the News in Ohio