When you begin discussing a green burial with your funeral directors, they may assume that you have already done most of the research. They may also assume that you know what type of burial you would like, in regards to the type of coffin or casket and the location. In some cases, your funeral director may offer some advice as well. One thing they may not cover are the unique differences between the green and standard burial. In some cases, these differences could change your mind. Here are a few to consider. No Headstone The misconception for many people seeking a green burial is that a headstone is part of the plan, since it is so standard with most burials. They focus on the burial itself as being the main differences rather than the setting or the grave marker options. The truth is, most natural burials don't have a gravestone or headstone. Instead a rock or some other naturally occurring material is used as a simple gravemarker. If you approach your funeral home about a green burial, and you want a headstone, make sure to mention that. They can then add this to the cost and help you decide on a material best suited for the environment and your needs. Depth of Burial In a traditional burial the depth of the coffin or casket is usually 5 feet deep. In a green or natural burial, the coffin is buried at 3 ½ feet deep. Though this may not make a difference to some people, it may make a difference to your plans depending on your location. For example, if you choose an area of burial that is located in heavy rainfall environments, you may want to consider requesting a deeper burial due to flooding. If the flooding goes on long enough, your remains could be left exposed or moved since the coffin or casket would be biodegradable wood or cardboard. Licensing and Permits Green burial isn't anything new, but it is something a bit outdated in most cities and municipal areas. This means if you want to have a natural burial you will need to through funeral directors, funeral homes, or burial sites that allow this type of service. The area will need to be licensed for the type of burial and permits may be required. If you own the land, you will need to check with your local municipal offices to ensure burial of human remains is allowed and what steps need to occur if it is not. Remember, a green burial means that you have nothing keeping your body or the coffin from biodegrading at a normal rate. No preservatives, specially sealed coffins, or other items that would keep your body from becoming part of the Earth again are present. This means there could be issues with the local water supply or concerns about contamination. For this reason it is better to consult your funeral directors fully before making the funeral arrangements.
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