Green Burials

W H A T I S G R E E N B U R I A L?

Green, or natural burial is the burial of a body without the use of embalming or a concrete grave liner, using a plain wooden casket or cloth shroud to contain the body. The body is buried in a shallower grave than is customary, in order to allow the remains to readily return to the earth. Burial may be in a section of a traditional cemetery or in a woodland or field set aside for green burials. This way of caring for the dead uses fewer natural resources, reduces carbon emissions, protects the health of funeral workers, and encourages the preservation of open space.

poem by Thomas Hardy

Green Burial Links

Green Burial Massachusetts

--state organization advocating green burial; resources for green burial planning

Green Burial Council

--national environmental certification organization setting the standard for green burial. Website includes lists of approved GBC providers and products, planning resources & more

National Home Funeral Alliance

--educational resources for home funerals; directory of home funeral guides

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts

--information on all aspects of the funeral industry, including natural burial

New Hampshire Funeral Resources, Education and Advocacy

--website includes a range of funeral resources, with emphasis on home funerals and green burial

Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA

--website of historic Mount Auburn Cemetery; one of the cemeteries in MA that permit natural burial


A Will for the Woods This documentary follows the final months of the life of a terminally-ill man as he plans his own green burial, ensuring that his last act is a gift to the planet.

Steelmantown Cemetery A short film explaining the creation of a green burial cemetery, commentary by the founder, funeral directors and woman planning her own funeral, and footage of funerals and burials at the cemetery.

The Undertaking--A PBS Frontline program

Frontline producers and cameras go behind the scenes at a third-generation funeral home in Michigan. (first broadcast October 2007)


Going Out Green Newspaper article

Is the cemetery dead? The Boston Globe May 13, 2018

How death got cool The Guardian January 12, 2018

How To Be Eco-friendly When You’re Dead The Atlantic, October 2014

The Greenest Things To Do With Your Body After You Die The Atlantic, December 2013

Our First Public Parks: The Forgotten History of Cemeteries The Atlantic, March 2009

Going Green, March 2009

Dying Traditions and New Life in the Funeral Industry The Boston Globe, May 2016

The Coffin Club: Elderly New Zealanders Building Their Own Caskets The Guardian, September 2016


Going Out Green: One Man's Adventure Planning His Own Burial by Bob Butz(2009)

Through memoir, boots on the ground research, conversations with his wife, and a serious degree of levity, Butz considers the options for his final act on Earth.

*From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty (2017)

Guardian book review

*Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty (2014)

Guardian book review

Grave Matters: a journey through the modern funeral industry to a natural way of burial by Mark Harris (2007)

author's website

The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford (1998)

New York Times book review

*Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death by Joshua Slocum & Lisa Carlson (2011)

Good Reads book review

*books available at Bolton Public Library other titles by request