Green Sanctuary News: What is Green Burial?

I recently attended a small interment service at Wildwood Cemetery. It was a beautiful summer morning. The guests surrounded the body, which was clad in just a shroud. The minister spoke briefly, and we sang while lowering the body into the grave and scattering it with flowers. What distinguished the service, apart from its simplicity and intimacy, was the fact that it was a green burial.

In a green burial, the body is not embalmed or cremated. It is buried as is, in either a simple compostable pine box or just a shroud. Such a burial is green because it doesn’t use toxic embalming fluids or a metal or other non-compostable casket, nor is the body cremated, which uses a large amount of energy. It takes up less cemetery space and can be more cost-effective than a conventional burial. It is more natural and eco-friendly. Green burial is a return to the way many people have been buried throughout history.

Douglas Funeral Home in Amherst and Graham Funeral Home in Easthampton are both supportive of green burial, and there may be others in the area as well. For more information, visit

By Mary Wyse, a long standing member of the Green Sanctuary Committee

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