Why Natural Burial?

At Greensprings, we have these goals: to provide a commonsense, traditional, affordable alternative to contemporary burial—an alternative that respects you and your loved ones.

At the same time, green burial offers the opportunity to give something back to the land and to the life that springs from it. Burial at Greensprings allows each person, each family who is part of Greensprings to take personal pride in helping to restore the land that will be their eternal home.

So while Greensprings is a cemetery, it doesn’t look like one. Instead, it looks much like a nature preserve with trails wandering through. And instead of those endless rows of somber stone, simply—Trees. Wildflowers. Wind in the grass. Here and there you’ll notice flat stone markers—fieldstones unearthed, perhaps, when a grave was dug or bought rough-cut from a local quarry, then engraved and laid flush with the earth.

But markers aren’t required. Some people choose plantings of native flowers and ferns on grave sites. Others simply let surrounding meadow plants take root.

Indeed, green burial is a new idea: the idea that in choosing how and where we are buried, each one of us can conserve, sustain, and protect the earth . . . the earth from which we came and to which we shall return.

A National Movement

Greensprings is certified by the Green Burial Council and part of a new national movement that provides traditional, commonsense, sustainable options—family- and community-centered options—for simple burial.

About 35 conservation, natural, and hybrid cemeteries are members of the council, along with about 250 funeral homes coast to coast.

As the green burial movement grows, it has the potential—given the raw dollars spent on burials each year—to restore and protect hundreds thousands of acres, beautiful places, all across North America.

Ecological Costs of Contemporary Burials

Each Year, the U.S.’s 22,500 cemeteries bury about

  • 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid
  • 30-plus million board feet of hardwoods (much tropical; caskets)
  • 90,272 tons of steel (caskets)
  • 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete (vaults)
  • 14,000 tons of steel (vaults)
  • 2,700 tons of copper and bronze (caskets)

On average, a cemetery buries 1,000 gallons of embalming fluid, 97.5 tons of steel, 2,028 tons of concrete, and 56,250 board feet of high quality tropical hardwood in just one acre of green

And then there’s the tons of fertilizers, pesticides, and water – not to mention emissions like CO2, nitrates, ozone, soot and more that it takes to keep cemeteries looking well manicured.

Ecological Costs of Contemporary Cremations

  • Each cremation releases between .8 and 5.9 grams of mercury as bodies are burned.  This amounts to between 1,000 and 7,800 pounds of mercury released each year in the U.S.  75% goes into the air and the rest settles into the ground and water.
  • You could drive about 4,800 miles on the energy equivalent of the energy used to cremate someone – and to the moon and back 85 times from all cremations in one year in the U.S.
  • Cremation removes the body from the cycle of nature, keeping it from nourishing new life

Cremations in Tompkins County release between 1.2 and 6.8 pounds of mercury into the atmosphere each year.  This estimate is based on a 20% statewide, cremation rate – though the county’s rate is probably higher.

A lifetime of growth continued…

Your choice for natural burial is a choice for natural renewal and growth – a way to give back to the earth that sustains us all.

Save a forest … plant yourself!