little boy and girl at graveside

Thanks to rising trends in green and natural burial options, eco-conscious individuals no longer need to compromise their values in the afterlife.

For most of human history, natural burial methods were considered the norm. It wasn’t until the start of the 20th century that toxin-laden embalming practices and air-polluting cremation methods became mainstream. As more and more individuals look for ways to reduce their carbon footprints, however, green burial options are gaining popularity.

What Is Green Burial?

Green or natural burials are burial methods that have a low environmental impact and employ nontoxic and biodegradable materials in place of chemicals and other resources that are damaging or harmful to the environment. As the Green Burial Council explains, by conserving natural resources, minimizing carbon emissions, and helping restore or preserve habitat, green burials offer more sustainable after-death options for you, your loved ones, and the planet.

Types of Green Burial Methods

There are countless options when it comes to green burial methods. From a biodegradable shroud or casket to water-based cremation, the types of green burial methods available are many, and — according to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) — demand for green funeral choices are on the rise. In its 2018 Consumer Preferences and Awareness Study, NFDA reported almost half of all Americans are interested in green burial options — here’s a look at just a few of the methods available.

Back to Nature

Image: The Living Urn

Have you ever wished you could spend eternity among Mother Nature? Thanks to a rise in green burial options, now you can. One method called The Living Urn allows for an individual’s remains to be combined with a soil additive and planted with the seedling of his or her choice.


An alternative to traditional cremation, aquamation — also known as alkaline hydrolysis or water cremation — uses water in place of fire to reduce the body to its basic element of bone. The end result is similar to remains produced by traditional fire cremation, but the environmental impact is significantly less.

Bon Voyage

Biodegradable Himalayan salt urn by Passages International
Biodegradable Himalayan salt urn. Image: Passages International

Adventure awaits in the afterlife, thanks to biodegradable urns that can carry remains out to sea before dissolving in the water. The company Passages International, for example, offers Himalayan Salt Urns that are handcrafted from 250-million-year-old rock salt deposits that float and dissolve after five hours in the water.

The Final Frontier

Stargazers can live out their fantasies of space travel in the afterlife by sending their remains into the stratosphere, no burial required. One company called Mesoloft makes this possible through the use of high-altitude balloons. The process works by placing the deceased’s remains inside of the balloon and releasing the balloon into the atmosphere. Mother Nature takes care of the rest.

By Margo Greenman

Margo is a writer and editor based in the Pacific Northwest who is passionate about all things travel and the outdoors. In her spare time, Margo enjoys cooking, beach days and spending time with family.