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, Greenand urns.
About 60 miles south of Cleveland is Ohio’s only “green cemetery,” Foxfield Preserve. It is part of the Wilderness Center, a 619-acre nonprofit nature preserve in Wilmot, a
village in Stark County. The concept is radical and traditional at the same time: burials in a completely natural setting and done in a completely natural way, no embalming, no concrete vaults, no metal caskets, perhaps no casket at all.
A few common questions about this:
- Isn’t there a law that requires bodies to be embalmed or encased in a concrete vault?
No – that’s a cemetery rule.
- Are headstones allowed?
Yes, but they’re optional . Modest headstones with an ecological function are requested. About half of the graves have headstones.
- If there’s no stone, how can you find a particular grave?
One of the laws the state of Ohio requires is that we have to locate a grave precisely, down to the inch in case anybody would ever have to be exhumed. So we have the whole place surveyed. . . . A handheld GPS will put you right on top of a grave.
- Can a tree be planted on the spot instead of using a headstone?
Yes. We have two sections. One that we’re converting to prairie because it’s got this gorgeous view of the Sugar Creek Valley. We want to keep the view open, so families can plant wildflowers there, native wildflowers. And the other section, which we’re foresting. We will work with them to select a native tree. Quite a few people who have bought ahead of time have purchased trees for their grave sites. And by the time they pass away, it’ll be a pretty significant tree.