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Cost of a Natural Burial: Understanding the Friendly Choices

cost of a natural burial (1)

Have you ever thought about how much it costs to have a natural burial? A natural burial, where the body is returned to the earth in the most organic way possible, might be what you’re looking for. It’s an approach that embraces simplicity and eco-friendliness, but what does it cost? This question is not just about dollars and cents; it’s about the value we place on leaving the world a little better than we found. Imagine a resting place under a canopy of trees, where the cycle of life continues unimpeded. Considering our pockets and planet, let’s explore the actual cost of a natural burial.

What is natural burial?

A natural burial is a way of laying someone to rest in the most eco-friendly manner possible. Instead of using traditional coffins, embalming chemicals, or concrete vaults, natural burials involve placing the body directly into the ground, allowing it to decompose naturally and return to the earth. The body might be wrapped in biodegradable materials like a simple shroud or placed in a coffin made of sustainable, easily decomposable materials. This method minimizes the environmental impact of burial, promotes the conservation of natural habitats, and often takes place in a designated natural burial ground or woodland cemetery, where the grave site can support the growth of native vegetation and wildlife.

Cost of a natural burial

How does natural burial work?

Natural burial works by following eco-friendly practices that ensure the burial process is as natural and minimally invasive to the environment as possible. Here’s a simplified overview of how it typically works:

Preparation of the Body: Unlike traditional burials, natural burials do not use embalming fluids, which are chemicals that preserve the body. Instead, the body is kept cool until the burial using more natural methods or buried shortly after death to avoid the need for preservation.

Biodegradable Materials: The body is either wrapped in a biodegradable shroud made from natural fibres like cotton, silk, or wool or placed in a casket made from sustainable, untreated, and easily decomposable materials such as pine, bamboo, or cardboard.

Natural Burial Sites: The burial occurs in a natural setting, often a dedicated natural burial ground or a specific area within a conventional cemetery that allows for natural burial. These sites are chosen for their ability to support native flora and fauna, and graves are usually dug by hand to minimize disturbance to the soil.

Grave Markers: Instead of traditional headstones, natural burial sites might use flat stones, native plants, or trees to mark the gravesite, or sometimes no marker, allowing the site to remain as natural-looking as possible.

No Vaults or Liners: Concrete vaults or liners commonly used in conventional burials to prevent ground collapse are not used in natural burials. This allows the body to contact the earth directly, facilitating natural decomposition.

Eco-Friendly Practices: The management of natural burial grounds emphasizes nature conservation. They maintain the land in a way that encourages wildlife, supports native vegetation, and restores or preserves natural habitats.

Decomposition and Return to Nature: Over time, the body decomposes naturally, contributing to the soil and becoming part of the ecosystem. This process is seen as a final act of giving back to the earth and promotes the concept of life’s cycle.

Natural burials are considered a way to reduce the environmental impact of traditional burial practices and allow for a more meaningful connection between the deceased and the natural world.

Are natural burials more expensive?

Cost of a natural burial can be less expensive than traditional burials. Still, the costs can vary widely depending on various factors such as location, the choice of natural burial ground, and the specific arrangements made. Here’s a breakdown of how natural burials can potentially save costs compared to traditional burials:

-No Embalming:

Embalming is often a significant expense in traditional funerals and is not used in natural burials. This not only saves money but also avoids the use of toxic chemicals that can harm the environment.

-Simpler Caskets or Shrouds:

Natural burials typically use biodegradable caskets made from sustainable materials or simple shrouds. These are generally less expensive than the ornate and often metal or hardwood caskets used in traditional burials.

-No Vault or Grave Liner:

Traditional burials often require a concrete vault or grave liner to prevent ground collapse and maintain cemetery landscaping, which can add considerable cost. These are not used in natural burials, allowing for further savings.

-Grave Markers:

 Instead of expensive headstones, natural burials might use natural rocks, plants, or trees as grave markers, or sometimes no markers, which can significantly reduce costs.

-Burial Site Costs:

 The cost of a plot in a natural burial ground can vary, but it is often comparable to or less than the cost of a plot in a traditional cemetery, especially when considering the long-term maintenance and preservation of natural spaces as part of the cost.

However, it’s important to note that while cost of a natural burial can be more cost-effective, the total cost will depend on personal choices and the specific services and goods selected, such as the type of memorial service and any additional ceremonies. Prices can also vary by region and the specific natural burial ground chosen, as some may offer more amenities or have different conservation goals that could impact pricing. Researching and comparing options in your area is always a good idea to understand better the potential costs involved.

Cost of a natural burial

A natural burial can cost between $500 and $2,000, especially when opting for the most straightforward arrangements. This price range generally covers the basics of a natural burial, which may include:

Burial Plot: A plot in a natural burial ground might be at the lower end of the spectrum in less expensive areas or burial grounds that aim to make natural burials more accessible.

Burial Container: This could include a basic biodegradable shroud or a simple wooden casket made from sustainable materials. The cost here can vary based on the material and design but can be kept low by choosing simple options.

Opening and Closing the Grave: This service fee can vary but might be included in the lower cost range in some natural burial grounds that use simpler and less invasive methods for grave preparation.

Memorial Service: Costs associated with a memorial service can vary widely depending on personal choices. Holding a service at a natural burial ground or another location, whether it’s led by a professional, can affect the cost.

Grave Marker: If chosen, a natural or eco-friendly grave marker such as a flat stone, tree, or plant can add to the cost, though this is typically less than traditional headstones.

Additional Fees: There may be additional fees for paperwork, transport of the body, and any other services provided by the funeral home or natural burial ground.

This estimate assumes a straightforward burial without extensive services or additional memorial costs. Prices can vary based on geographic location, the specific natural burial ground, and any additional services or personalized elements added to the burial process. It’s also worth noting that this price range might not include optional services like a memorial ceremony, transportation of the body, or any unique grave markers or plantings that families might choose to add.

Comparing the cost of a natural burial vs Cremation

Natural burial is usually the preferred choice based on having the body placed back into the earth with the least resistance and environmental impact. When the focus is strictly financial, the average cost of natural burials tends to be higher than that of cremation costs.

That is because cremation can be less involved. There is the actual act of cremation and possibly an urn; for some families, that may be all that is required. Others may prefer to enter the urn in a mausoleum or cremation niche within a cemetery, which will add costs.

What is the difference between a green burial and a natural burial?

Here’s a comparison table based on key features between green burial and natural burial:

 

Feature

Green Burial

Natural Burial

Embalming

Typically avoided to minimize chemical use

Not used, body is returned to earth naturally

Casket

Biodegradable materials without metal or toxic finishes

Simple shrouds or biodegradable caskets made of natural fibers or wood

Burial Site

Can be a designated green area within a traditional cemetery or a natural setting

Dedicated natural burial grounds, often in a more wild or undeveloped land setting

Grave Marker

Natural or eco-friendly markers, sometimes with GPS coordinates for location

Minimalist or no marker, possibly a planted tree or shrub

Environmental Impact

Low impact, encourages ecosystem preservation and restoration

Very low impact, promotes natural decomposition and land conservation

Cost

Generally lower than traditional burials due to simpler practices and materials

Can vary, often lower than traditional burials but depends on specific arrangements and site

This table outlines the general differences, though it’s important to note that practices can vary and some aspects might overlap between green and natural burials. ​

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, going for a natural burial isn’t just about the cost. It’s about caring for the Earth and following nature’s way. While regular burials might be pricey, picking a natural one means being kind to the environment. It’s like giving back to the Earth and being respectful as we return to the ground. So, the true worth of the cost of a natural burial is more than just money—it’s about leaving a good mark by looking after our planet.

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