Green Burial vs Traditional Burial: Comparing the Environmental Impact

Aug 18, 2023


When it comes to end-of-life decisions, many people are now considering the environmental impact of their choices. Green burial and traditional burial are two options that differ significantly in their impact on the environment. In this article, we will compare the environmental impact of these two types of burials.

Traditional Burial

Traditional burials involve embalming the body with chemicals and placing it in a casket made of wood or metal. The casket is then buried in a cemetery, which requires land use and maintenance. The process of embalming involves using formaldehyde, which is a toxic chemical that can seep into the soil and groundwater.

Additionally, traditional burials require the use of heavy machinery to dig graves and transport caskets. This machinery emits carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants into the air.

Green Burial

Green burial, also known as natural burial, is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial. It involves burying the body in a biodegradable shroud or casket made from sustainable materials such as bamboo or wicker. No embalming is involved, which eliminates the use of toxic chemicals.

Green burials also require less land use than traditional burials since they do not involve concrete vaults or grave liners. Instead, they allow for natural decomposition and return of nutrients to the soil.

Comparing Environmental Impact

According to a study by Elizabeth Keijzer, traditional burials have a low environmental impact compared to other activities during a person's life. However, when compared to green burials, they have a much higher impact on the environment.

The study found that green burials have minimal environmental impact since they do not involve toxic chemicals or non-biodegradable materials. They also require less land use and maintenance than traditional burials.

In terms of carbon emissions, cremation is often considered more environmentally friendly than burial since it does not require land use or heavy machinery. However, cremation still emits CO2 and other pollutants into the air.


When it comes to choosing between green burial and traditional burial, it's clear that green burial has a much lower environmental impact. By eliminating toxic chemicals and non-biodegradable materials from the process, green burial allows for natural decomposition and nutrient return to the soil.

If you're interested in learning more about green burial options in your area, check out resources like The Green Burial Council or talk to your local funeral home about eco-friendly options.

Love and Light,



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