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Green Burial: A New Way of Thinking

Green BurialGrowing pressure to keep costs down, personalize a final good bye, and take control of final planning are all impetuses for simpler send-offs including green burials. In much the same way as modern funerals made way for cremation, green funerals have become an alternative option for final planning.

Natural or “green” burial can rightfully be described as “traditional burial” since its methods have a history of thousands of years and was the standard burial practice in America before the Civil War. The basic characteristics that define green burial are no embalming, no vault and any container that is used (shrouds may be used) must be composed of only biodegradable materials.

A new option that has developed using these green burial methods is “conservation burial”, whereby a portion of the burial fee goes to preserve and manage the natural burial ground as a “living memorial” under the perpetual protection of a conservation easement. The Green Burial Council established the first set of standards for an eco-friendly burial and burial grounds http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/   According to the Council’s standards, a Green Burial does not degrade an ecosystem, rather it is about caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact, conserving natural resources and promoting the restoration or preservation of natural habitats. Subscribing to this philosophy means avoiding metal caskets, burial vaults, and embalming. Embalming is not required by Florida law, but the body must be refrigerated within 24 hours of death.

A shallow grave is dug to allow microbial activity similar to composting. Interment does not inhibit decomposition; it allows for the body to recycle naturally. The casket, urn, or shroud should be constructed from nontoxic and readily biodegradable materials/ substances. A burial vault or outer burial containers are not used because they prevent the body’s contact with soil.

The Federal Funeral Rule

Funerals are a consumer product and are regulated by Federal Trade Commission http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0300-ftc-funeral-rule . Most states do not require a funeral home for planning and conducting funerals, however some people find services of professional funeral home comforting because they have more experience with details and legal requirements.

The Florida Rule

In 2005, the Florida Legislature created the Division of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services and revised Chapter 497 of the Florida Statutes. Individuals involved in funeral and cemetery services are regulated by the Chapter and further purposes and intent of the rule are defined within.  http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0400-0499/0497/0497ContentsIndex.html&StatuteYear=2013&Title=-%3E2013-%3EChapter%20497 Inspections, examinations and investigations for the death care industry are conducted through the Department of Financial Services by the Division of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services Businesses. They can reached by calling 800-323-2627 or visiting http://www.myfloridacfo.com/Division/FuneralCemetery/Contact/default.htm#.VDbRu6TD-AY

No matter your preferences or where you are on the path to end of life planning, getting to the right answers takes time. Planning ahead will help you make informed decisions.

Sources:

Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). The FTC Funeral Rule. Accessed on October 3, 2017. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0300-ftc-funeral-rule

Green Burial Council. (n.d.). What is the Green Burial Council? Accessed on July 15, 2016. https://greenburialcouncil.org/