If you live a sustainable and environmentally friendly way in life, you can now keep to those practices in death. Natural burial is the process in which a body is interred in such a way that it decomposes back into the earth. No embalming is used, and instead of a regular casket, the body is laid in a biodegradable coffin, casket or shroud.
Is It Legal?
Natural burials are legal in all 50 states, including Florida. You must bury or preserve the body within 24 hours of death by Florida law, but that can include refrigeration instead of embalming. You may need a funeral home for refrigeration, transportation of the body and completion of state paperwork.
Where Do Natural Burials Happen?
There are about 60 green cemeteries in the U.S., according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance. There are two in north Florida.
One is the Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery in Gainesville. At Prairie Creek, the land is in its natural state, covered in native plants. There are no tombstones; graves are marked with a two-inch brass disk. Families get the GPS coordinates of their loved ones’ graves so they can always be found. Memorial items can stay for a week after burial, but are then removed. You can also opt to have native species planted at your loved one’s grave as a memorial.
Another option is Glendale Nature Preserve in DeFuniak Springs. Like Prairie Creek, Glendale offers burial of bodies or of cremated remains and bans embalming fluid and the use of concrete underground vaults to hold the casket. It allows markers of uncut natural stone or native plants. The preserve also offers handmade caskets made from the bamboo grown on the preserve. At Glendale, you can purchase a family plot that can even accommodate your pets.
What Are the Benefits of Natural Burial?
Green or natural burials are environmentally sustainable. The body returns to the earth and, in many instances, the grave blends into the natural surroundings. Green burials may also be less expensive than a traditional funeral because the caskets are less expensive and there’s no vault.
What if I Choose Another Cemetery?
You can make any burial more green by choosing not to embalm and using a shroud or biodegradable casket. Most cemeteries require the use of a vault, but you can always ask to use a grave box with an open bottom, have holes drilled in the vault, or invert the vault without its cover.
If a green or natural burial sounds right for you, include it in pre-planning your funeral arrangements. We’re here to support you through the pre-planning process. We even schedule virtual meetings. Call Bevis Funeral Home at 850-385-2193 to get started today.