Green until the very end: Eco-friendly burials increasingly popular

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In New York, “green” funerals for those that want to remain eco-friendly even in death are growing in popularity thanks to increased awareness and accommodation by local cemeteries.

Such burial methods generally eschew coffins, embalming fluid, energy-intensive cremation, and concrete, says Suzanne Kelly, Rhinebeck Cemetery committee chairwoman and author of Greening Death.

The idea is catching on in other states as well. Vermont is reducing the minimum depth for burial from 5 feet to a more decomposition-conducive 3 ½ feet. In Alabama, casket sales are no longer restricted to licensed funeral directors. The change came after a lawsuit from a woman who wanted to sell biodegradable caskets for an eco-friendly cemetery.

Green burials can also involve biodegradable urns made from cornstarch, which Mary Lauren Fraser produces and sells in Massachusetts for $200.