Green Burials

What is “Green Burial”?

Green Burial is an environmentally sustainable alternative for funeral and burial where the body is returned to the earth to decompose as naturally as possible and be recycled into new life. A Green burial does not preclude you from having an opportunity for private family time to say good-bye, a visitation, and memorial ceremonies to recognize and celebrate the life of your loved one.

What is Basic Care?

Basic Care is the care that is provided to your loved one in preparation of private family time to say good-bye.  This care will include bathing and washing, combing of your loved one’s hair, and application of a topical disinfectant.  We check for valuables and return any items to your family with an inventory list.  We gently position your loved one’s body and gently close their eyes and mouth to natural lines of closure.  We will remove any soiled clothing or sheets and will dress them in a hospital gown and cover them with a clean sheet until we receive the clothing you desire to use for their burial.   The use of our temperature controlled care facility to facilitate temporary preservation is also provided. With Basic Care, there is no Embalming Care provided. 

What is the purpose of a Casket?

A casket holds a person with respect and dignity while in our custody. A “green” casket is a container, generally manufactured of wood, designed for the viewing of a deceased loved one in the funeral home for both private family time of goodbye and public visitation periods.    The casket also serves as dignified and respectful storage for the body and allows for ease of transportation to the cemetery for interment or entombment.  A green casket will be biodegradable.   

What materials are used in Green Caskets?

There are several materials that may be used for Green casket construction, ranging from simple pine to woven sustainable materials.  Bamboo is grown and harvested at licensed plantations (when it is cut down at the root, it takes just 59 days to grow back to full height without need for re-planting).  Willow is cut from bushes known as crowns which remain harvestable for approximately 40 years before they need to be re-planted. 

These caskets will biodegrade, leaving nothing but human remains within six months to one year from the time of burial.  These caskets are also appropriate for cremation; an added benefit is the lack of toxins released into the environment during the cremation process.     

Do you need an Outer Burial Container or Vault?

In conventional burial, an outer burial container is placed in the ground, in a concrete box form and helps support the weight of the earth to prevent the grave from collapsing.  It is a cemetery requirement that aids the cemetery in maintenance of their grounds. You may skip the vault if the cemetery permits it, or pick a concrete burial container with an open bottom to let the body come into contact with the earth.

In instances where there is no natural or green burial options available, the ceremonies provided can still reflect Green or Natural care, the casket can be a “Green” casket, and the minimum environmental impact container can be used.     

Can survivors participate in the burial process by watching the burial process?

Yes, survivors can participate in the completion of the burial process.

What is Cremation?

Cremation is a process to prepare a deceased human person for final disposition by reducing them to bone fragments and skeletal particles through intense heat and flame. Cremation is a two-step process.  After this first step has taken place, a person’s remains, mainly bone fragments and skeletal particles, are gathered and these remains are placed in a processor, creating a uniform powder-like texture. Due to the irreversible nature of cremation, most states require a waiting period before the actual process may begin.  In Massachusetts, at least 48 hours must pass before cremation may be authorized. 

Cremation does not exclude the need to recognize an individual and a life lived; or the need for dignified and respectful treatment of a body including, when desired or necessary, cosmetic restoration, clothing, and other related care; or the need for a private or public gathering; either with or without ceremony or ritual; or the need to select and arrange for meaningful final placement of a body following cremation; or the need to permanently and appropriately memorialize the life and the individual.

Cremation uses fewer resources than other disposition choices but it also has an environmental impact. The Green Burial Council is working towards provisions to help identify ways to reduce or off-set the environmental impact of cremation. The main objective is to offer viable options for reducing the “eco-footprint” in whatever manner that is deemed appropriate by survivors.  

What is the purpose of a Cremation Container?

A Cremation container holds a person with respect and dignity while in our custody and is designed for the viewing of a deceased loved one for private family time of good-bye and any public ceremonies.  A container will also allow for ease of transport and proper placement into the cremation chamber, also with respect and dignity.  A cremation container also facilitates the cremation process and allows for safe handling of an individual for our associates while in our care.  Because we have standards to facilitate dignity and respect, we require a cremation container. Most “green” burial caskets will serve this intended purpose or a basic alternative container may be used.

What is the purpose of an Urn?

An urn is a specialized container to hold a person’s cremated remains.  It will keep a person’s cremated remains together and protects the integrity of the cremated remains. Urns can be used for the following manners of final disposition: Interment, Entombment, Scattering, or Keepsake/Memorialization. We have urns that are designed to be biodegradable for scattering or for burial purposes or burial at sea.
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