Initiatives‎ > ‎

Green Burials

W H A T   I S   G R E E N   B U R I A L?

Green, or natural burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat. Green burial necessitates the use of non-toxic and biodegradable materials, such as caskets, shrouds, and urns.

poem by Thomas Hardy


Green Burial Massachusetts

--state organization advocating green burial; resources for green burial planning

Green Burial Council     

--national environmental certification organization setting the standard for green burial. Website includes lists of approved GBC providers and products, planning resources & more

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Eastern Massachusetts   

--information on all aspects of the funeral industry, including natural burial

New Hampshire Funeral Resources, Education and Advocacy      

--website includes a range of funeral resources, with emphasis on home funerals and green burial

Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA 

--website of historic Mount Auburn Cemetery; one of the cemeteries in MA that permit natural burial



A Will for the Woods    This documentary follows the final months of the life of a terminally-ill man as he plans his own green burial, ensuring that his last act is a gift to the planet.

Steelmantown Cemetery  A short film explaining the creation of a green burial cemetery, commentary by the founder, funeral directors and woman planning her own funeral, and footage of funerals and burials at the cemetery.





How To Be Eco-friendly When You’re Dead   The Atlantic, October 2014

The Greenest Things To Do With Your Body After You Die    The Atlantic, December 2013

Our First Public Parks: The Forgotten History of Cemeteries  The Atlantic, March 2009

Going Green, March 2009

Dying Traditions and New Life in the Funeral Industry    The Boston Globe, May 2016

The Coffin Club: Elderly New Zealanders Building Their Own Caskets      The Guardian, September 2016 


Going Out Green: One Man's Adventure Planning His Own Burial by Bob Butz (2009)
Through memoir, boots on the ground research, conversations with his wife, and a serious degree of levity, Butz considers the options for his final act on Earth.

*From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty (2017)

Guardian book review     

*Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty (2014)

Guardian book review    

Grave Matters: a journey through the modern funeral industry to a natural way of burial by Mark Harris (2007)

author's website  

The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford (1998)

New York Times book review     

*Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death by Joshua Slocum & Lisa Carlson (2011)

Good Reads book review   

* books available at Bolton Public Library          

(other titles by request)