What Is A Natural Burial & Are There Different Types?

Author: Lianna Champ.

What Is A Natural Burial?

Natural burial is a term used to describe the burial of human remains, where the burial area creates a natural habitat for wildlife or preserves the existing habitat — woodland, species-rich meadows, orchards, aquatic sustainably managed farmland etc. which are rich in flora and fauna.

 

It reduces carbon footprint by 30kg of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) per burial.

 

The natural funeral preceding the burial seeks to minimise environmental impact by prohibiting embalming, and where a coffin is used, ensuring that it’s made of natural, biodegradable materials.

And, in spite of the legally required filtering systems in crematoria, the average cremation still uses 28 gallons of fuel to cremate a single body. This emits around 245kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s a huge difference.

 

Natural Burials In Biblical Times

Natural burials are documented in The Bible, The Torah (The Torah is the first part of the Jewish Bible) and The Koran. The Torah and The Koran require the body to be left in contact with the earth.

Some Funeral Directors refuse to offer natural burial as it may be seen as secular (not connected with religious or spiritual matters) Here at Champ Funerals we work with you based on your wishes, not ours.

 

ancient-burial

LLigwy Burial chamber is a small neolithic burial chamber constructed before 3000 BC

 

Women V Men

The Natural Death Centre noted that many of the new, alternative Funeral Directors to include natural burial in their services are women.

 

The Introduction of Natural Burials In The Western World

The world’s first natural burial site was created and opened in the United Kingdom by Ken West at Carlisle Cemetery in 1993. Amazingly, the first natural burial site in America wasn’t opened until 1998 at Ramsey Creek Preserve in South Carolina.

Australia is known for its overcrowded burial grounds, but natural burials didn’t become popular in Australia until 2016, and it’s actually looked upon as a space saver.

There was an article in The Guardian in November 2018 called ‘Pushing up trees: is natural burial the answer to crowded cemeteries?’, which reflected this.

 

The Very First Introduction of Natural Burials on TV

A natural burial was first aired on TV on premium cable network HBO in TV drama Six Feet Under — a dark comedy based in a Los Angeles funeral home owned and run by the Fisher family. The funeral of Nate Fisher was a natural burial. This episode was aired in 2007.

 

 

What Kind Of Coffin/Basket Can I Select For A Natural Burial?

As long as it is biodegradable, you can choose a coffin or a basket from a variety of materials particularly from a sustainable resource — a resource which can be continuously replenished.

  • Raw Teak
  • Bamboo
  • Seagrass
  • Banana Leaf
  • Water Hyacinth
  • Rattan; Willow
  • Wicker
  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Wool

 

A 2007 Post Office research revealed 35% of people will plan an “eco-friendly” burial’

 

Are There Different Types of Natural Burial?

Fancy a Natural Burial Under The Sea?

There’s a company in Florida called Eternal Reefs, and they offer to take cremated remains and incorporate them into a cement artificial reef formation, then place it in a permitted ocean floor plot of your choice.

 

Or Being Eaten By A Mushroom?

Coeio, a company based in California has created The Infinity Burial Suit. It seems like an absolute breakthrough in eco-friendly, natural and green burial options.

What it does is return your body to the earth without harming the environment. You can buy a Mushroom Suit or a shroud lined with flesh-eating fungi, which will hasten your body’s return to nature.

 

mushroom burial

Mushrooms growing on tree and graves at a municipal cemetery in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

What Can’t I Do?

No Embalming

Natural burial does not allow embalming — a chemical procedure for preserving the body to reduce the natural processes of tissue breakdown of the body after death.

 

No Marking Of The Grave

The purpose of Natural/Green burial is to allow nature to be free, unaffected and nurtured. Therefore no headstones, grave boundaries or grave markings are permitted.

The grass grows freely, wildflowers can flourish, trees are planted, creating an area and an aura of tranquillity and beauty.

 

In 2017 a US study by Funeral & Memorial Info Council suggests that 64% of people over the age of 40 expressed an interest in Natural or Green Burials. In 2015 this figure was 43%

 

This also means that you cannot tend the grave, or trim the grass or tidy up. It as it is — completely untouched and free.

Also, Natural/Green burial grounds do not actually resemble a cemetery but are a place where you can visit, a place where you can connect with the rhythms of nature that gives life its meaning. Just an amazing feeling of doing your bit for the environment. The feeling of your loved one playing their part in the great human adventure.

 

The Continuing Rise Of Natural Burials

Younger generations are much more aware and have been taught to be more so of the wider eco-system around them and the effect on our environment of everything we do, compared to the education of their grandparents.

They are much more likely to consider a natural ending, and as the taboo around funerals loosens, their awareness will increase.

 

If you want to learn more about our natural burials, please contact lianna@champfunerals.com or visit our contact page.

 

natural-burial