What is green burial?
Green burials have been practiced for centuries and were common until the late 19th century. Green burials at Milton Fields do not use formaldehyde-based embalming, caskets made of metal or exotic wood, concrete burial vaults or large stone monuments. The deceased’s body is not embalmed. Refrigeration or dry ice is used. The body is then placed in a casket made of renewable, biodegradable material or wrapped in a fabric shroud before being gently placed directly in the ground. A natural burial is an environmentally sustainable alternative to a conventional funeral. Green burials at Milton Fields will promote environmental preservation and land conservation.
Why should I consider a “green” or natural burial?
Increasingly, many people are looking for alternatives to traditional funeral arrangements. They yearn for a simpler, more natural approach to their own final arrangements. Many are concerned about loss of natural habitat, decreasing green space and man’s impact on the environment.
Consider the following:
On an annual basis, conventional burials in the United States place into the ground:
- More than 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde
- Enough metal to build the Golden Gate Bridge
- Enough reinforced concrete from burial vaults to build a two-lane highway from New York to Detroit*
*Green Burial Council (GBC)
And there are no known health or safety reasons for doing so. Recent surveys indicate that approximately 50% of us would prefer natural burial to embalming and burying precious metals, woods and concrete in the ground.
How does a natural burial differ from a conventional burial?
Embalmed bodies can’t be interred in a Natural Burial Ground. The European Union has declared embalming fluid a known carcinogen. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named formaldehyde as a “probable” carcinogen. The World Health Organization declared it a known carcinogen. The Green Burial Council wants to ensure that alternatives are available to people who want to minimize their environmental impact and handle their death in a natural way. According to the GBC, “In very few circumstances is embalming actually required by law and a ‘funeral with a viewing’ is not one of them. GBC-approved funeral directors make available refrigeration and/or dry ice as an alternative to embalming.”
Instead of a casket made of metal or endangered woods, a green burial uses a casket made of pine, poplar, ash or wicker. Alternatively, the body may be wrapped in a shroud of biodegradable fibers such as linen or cotton.
Most cemeteries require the purchase of a vault or outer burial container into which the casket is placed. These containers range from several hundred to several thousand dollars. They were originally used to keep the ground from sinking and to protect caskets from grave robbers. Before vaults came into use, cemeteries simply mounded the excess dirt on top of the grave. Later, the dirt was leveled off, if necessary. No state or federal laws require vaults. GBC-certified cemeteries specify that no vaults can be used. Bodies are interred in a biodegradable coffin or shroud and placed directly in the earth. Gradually, the body returns to the earth in a natural progression.
Can we still have a funeral or memorial service?
Of course. Milton Fields works with local GBC-approved funeral providers to ensure that you and your loved ones can create a meaningful service. When a person dies, in most states the law requires refrigeration, burial, cremation or embalming within 24 hours. Many funeral homes have refrigeration available and are required by law to notify you that embalming is not required.
Can I pre-plan the funeral?
From an emotional and financial standpoint, pre-planning is a smart decision. It is an act of love – your pre-planning will ease your family’s stress during what can be a difficult time. Milton Fields Natural Burial Ground can recommend local funeral directors who are approved by the Green Burial Council.
If traditional monuments aren’t used, how will I locate the grave?
Each burial space is carefully platted, recorded and marked with numbered, lettered pins inserted into the ground. If you wish, the space can have an approved memorial (such as engraved stone markers) placed on the actual plot.
Does Milton Fields accept cremated remains?
Yes. Cremated remains may be buried in biodegradable urns or scattered in a section of the cemetery reserved for ashes. Beautiful urns made of natural materials may be ordered from Passages International, Inc.
Consumers should be aware that while cremation uses fewer resources, it is not without environmental impact. According to the GBC, cremation burns fossil fuel. Some of the older crematoriums use more energy than newer facilities. When a person with dental amalgam fillings is cremated, mercury is emitted. The GBC certifies cremation disposition programs that create or protect habitat. The Council is also working to mitigate mercury pollution from GBC-approved cremation facilities by 2010.
Is Milton Fields a perpetual care cemetery?
Yes. Milton Fields’ perpetual care trust agreement was approved by and registered with the Georgia Office of the Secretary of State. We are considered a perpetual or endowment-care cemetery. When a plot is purchased, we are required by law to deposit a specified amount in an irrevocable trust account. Only the interest from the account is used to maintain the cemetery. The endowment ensures that Milton Fields will be properly cared for in perpetuity.
What are your hours and days of operation?
Milton Fields Natural Burial Ground will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., all year long. The cemetery is open for visitation but closed for burials on the following holidays: New Years Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.