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What states allow natural burial or green burial?

Natural burial is a way of laying a person to rest after they pass away with a focus on returning their body to the earth in a way that is environmentally friendly and respectful of nature. Instead of using traditional embalming methods and placing the body in a metal casket, natural burial or “green burial” typically involves using biodegradable materials like a shroud or untreated wooden or wicker casket. The body is then buried in a designated burial ground, which is often a more natural setting like a meadow or forest, without the use of headstones or other markers.

The goal of natural burial is to minimize the impact on the environment and to allow the body to decompose naturally and become part of the ecosystem. It’s an alternative to the more conventional funeral practices that can be more resource-intensive and can have a larger environmental impact. Many people who choose natural burial see it as a way of returning to the earth in a more meaningful and spiritual way, and as a way of honoring their connection to the natural world.

But what states allow natural burial or green burial? In the United States, funeral and burial regulations are set by individual states, and some states have been slower to adopt green burial practices than others. Additionally, there may be concerns around public health and safety, such as the risk of groundwater contamination from burial practices. Despite this, it is still possible to plan a green burial if you adhere to certain guidelines–even in locations that don’t possess specific legislation. We’ve compiled a short list that shows what certain states expect regarding green burial.

Where is Natural Burial or Green Burial legal?

  • Alabama:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Alaska:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Arizona:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Arkansas:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • California:
    • Green burial is legal and regulated.
    • Allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a minimum burial depth of three feet.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
    • Burial site must be located at least 100 feet away from a water source.
  • Colorado:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Connecticut:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Delaware:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Florida:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Georgia:
    • Green burial is legal and regulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a minimum burial depth of three feet.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
    • Burial site must be located at least 200 feet away from a water source.
  • Hawaii:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Idaho:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Illinois:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Indiana:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Iowa:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Kansas:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Kentucky:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Louisiana:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Maine:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Maryland:
    • Green burial is legal and regulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a minimum burial depth of three feet.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
    • Burial site must be located at least 100 feet away from a water source.
  • Massachusetts:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Michigan:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Minnesota:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Mississippi:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Missouri:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Montana:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Nebraska:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Nevada:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • New Hampshire:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • New Jersey:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • New Mexico:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • New York:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • North Carolina:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • North Dakota:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Ohio:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Oklahoma:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Oregon:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Pennsylvania:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Rhode Island:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • South Carolina:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • South Dakota:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Tennessee:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Texas:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Utah:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Vermont:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Virginia:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Washington:
    • Green burial is legal and regulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a minimum burial depth of three and a half feet.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
    • Burial site must be located at least 50 feet away from a water source.
  • West Virginia:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Wisconsin:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Typically allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.
  • Wyoming:
    • Green burial is legal but unregulated.
    • Generally allows for burial of unembalmed bodies in biodegradable containers or shrouds.
    • Requires a burial permit and death certificate.

 

If you don’t see your state, please reach out to us at info@returnhome.com and we will do our best to help find the regulations in your state!

Whether you choose to plan the funeral on your own or seek guidance from a licensed funeral director, remember that there are resources available to help you make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. By taking the time to research and understand the regulations and guidelines for natural burial in your state, you can ensure that your loved one’s final resting place aligns with their values and the values of our planet. Information on state regulations can often be found on state government websites, such as the Department of Health or Vital Records.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Eugene Blanch

    Does the state of Illinois allow green burials and without embalming fluid

  2. Dorothy kearns

    Can I be buried in my back yard like trumps wife

    1. Kali

      Hello Dorothy. Being buried in your backyard is complicated. Most states require that you have specific amount of land (to dedicate as a cemetery), that you have an endowment fund to perpetuate the care of the backyard cemetery, and that it be legally recognized as a cemetery by the state (aka permitting). It’s a lot of work! Currently, HB1037 in Washington state (where Return Home is located) is looking to change this type of law so that people can be buried in their backyards.

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