A Natural Approach to a Green Burial…

Posted on January 15, 2016 by J. Chad Pendley under Most Common Questions
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Green Natural Burial

A request that we hear from our families quite often is how can they have or achieve a Green or Natural Burial experience.  My intention with this post is to inform you what it takes and how you can achieve this experience… also, to help you decide if it is right for you.

What is a Green or Natural Burial?

A service where the deceased has decided to be buried in the most natural setting and the most natural way.  This does not only include the interment of the human body but also for the cremains of those who choose cremation as their final disposition.  Around our area their are only two (that we are aware of) cemeteries that allow this type of interment on their grounds and they are designed specifically for this purpose.

Many people think that just the container the body or the cremains are placed in constitute a green or natural burial, but that is not the whole truth.  Cemeteries, which are designed for this, see themselves more as a Natural Preserve rather than a cemetery and they have certain requirements that have to be met.  Let’s list the requirements for each choice of disposition…

Traditional Body Interment:
  • Caskets made of only a simple wood, wicker or cloth material with no finish that will dissolve back into the earth.TerraWicker(1)
  • Caskets are not required if the family chooses to just inter the body wrapped in a cotton shroud.
  • No vaults of any kind are required or allowed.
  • No embalming or any unnatural chemicals are allowed to be used.
  • Refrigeration of the body is required up till the day of the service.
Cremation Interment:
  • An urn that is made of only a simple wood, wicker or cloth material that will dissolve back into the earth.
  • Some Natural Preserves will allow the scattering or the placing of cremains with no container.Eco-Forest

Why you should consider a Green or Natural Burial…

This is a great choice for the families who are looking for a simpler and more natural approach for their final wishes.  A Green or Natural burial is the most natural way of interment, the way our ancestors experienced it without all the added services that are now the “common”.  Many families see the value of maintaining a natural habitat rather than using valuable green space for cemeteries or other structures, keeping the human footprint to a bare minimum is very important to them.  With the burial of the untouched human body or cremains you are keeping the earth’s soil clean and unobstructed so that the natural habitat can flourish.  Even the placing of headstones are done on a natural rock that you must be on the lookout for in order to see.  The natural preserves want you to walk their grounds seeing the beauty of the land rather than seeing headstones, I was told by a staff member of Honey Creek Woodlands that if you can walk through their fields and see where people were buried then they have not done their job.  Again, this is viewed as a natural preserve… not a cemetery.  IMG_0044

Our experience of being out in the middle of a natural meadow or forrest line to have a service has been great.  The families who choose this option are so comforted by the natural habitat and it is truly and experience to be a part of.  Families may wear jeans and boots and dress comfortably because we are walking a natural preserve, our last family, the husband of the deceased asked us to wear the same and to not “mess up our good clothes”!  Our staff was honored to be allowed to serve this family in our dress down clothes and it also created an environment with all who attended that the focus was on the life, the preserve and not what we were all wearing or driving for the funeral… it was a nice change of pace from our normal experience.

Things to consider when determining if this is right for you…IMG_0046

The first and most important factor in your decision will of course be the viewing of your body, if that is your wish.  Depending on the circumstances surrounding death many people can have a viewing without the traditional embalming.  Our staff here advises families of the concerns when you want to have a public viewing due to various reasons.  For many people embalming is not required but in certain times it can be encouraged, again, it depends on the circumstances surrounding that death.  Most of our Green or Natural Burial families choose to have the burial first, because of no embalming, and then hold a memorial service after the burial.  When choosing the option of a Green or Natural Burial it is best to make that the priority and consider that part of the service to be handled first and at the earliest convenient time for the family.


We understand that this is not for everyone and many will not consider this option.  It is our job to let you make that decision based on you knowing all the options that are out there… because quite honestly many people do not know about this option.  We encourage funeral education with our families, and know all the available options and letting them create and personalize their final wishes that will honor that life while allowing a space for the surviving family to be comforted.


Even Funeral Directors can dress down!

We are here to answer your questions and help you to find the right service that will fit your every need.  Please feel free to come by or call for more information on Green or Natural Burial.

J. Chad Pendley

Chad is a licensed professional and is a native of Cobb County, growing up in Powder Springs and currently living in Marietta Ga. After graduating from McEachern High School Chad attended Gupton Jones College of Funeral Service and graduated as a Master Artist of the Pi Sigma Eta Honorary Mortician Fraternity. He was the recipient of the Bill Pierce award and Daniel E. Buchanan award, recognizing him as a leader in the funeral profession. A member of the Marietta Metro Rotary and different organizations in his profession, Chad also participates in monthly activities promoting the funeral home and networking with other professionals in the area. He is a member and attends Westridge Church in Dallas Ga. He is married to Kristin and as a proud father, Chad enjoys the time he gets to spend with his family and that usually revolves around the softball fields. He has a gift of developing a warm, helpful, and strong relationship with the families he serves and is a valuable source of knowledge at Mayes Ward Dobbins.

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