Green Burial Basics

Green Burial is a natural process. It was the traditional method of burial until about 150 years ago. It is a way of caring for the dead with dignity and minimal impact on the environment.

Green Burials use non-toxic and biodegradable caskets or shrouds, and the body is not embalmed. Concrete vaults and grave liners are not used.

The land remains in a natural state that does not require the use of lawn fertilizers, pesticides, or extensive landscaping. Natural grave markers, such as flat river stones or native plantings, are used to mark the grave site. Green Burial conserves resources, reduces carbon emissions, protects workers’ health, and preserves or restores natural habitats.

Along with all the local updates in Maryland on this site, Green Burial Association of Maryland (GBAM) also hosts a website with detailed information about practical issues such as home funerals and transporting the deceased.  It also addresses questions like “Do I need to use a funeral director?”   MarylandFuneral.org

The Natural Burial Experience video takes a visitor through a typical green burial with photos and helpful information. Lee Webster, October 2022

Standards for green burial have been established by the Green Burial Council (https://www.greenburialcouncil.org/our_standards.html). 

The Green Burial Council (GBC) is the only independent, third-party certifying organization in the country. GBC’s standards protect consumers from greenwashing and potential fraudulent schemes, as well as supporting cemetery operators who provide this much-needed service in communities.

Photograph by Ramsey Creek Preserve, Westminster, SC
https://www.memorialecosystems.com

Benefits of Green Burial

Standards for green burial have been established by the Green Burial Council. The Green Burial Council (GBC) is the only independent, third-party certifying organization in the country. GBC’s standards protect consumers from greenwashing and potential fraudulent schemes, as well as supporting cemetery operators who provide this much-needed service in communities.

Environmental Impact of Conventional Burial

From Mary Woodsen of Cornell University and Greensprings Natural Preserve in Newfield, New York:

Burials in the United States use approximately:

  • 4.3 million gallons embalming fluid, 827,060 gallons of which is formaldehyde, methanol, and benzene
  • 20 million board feet of hardwoods, including rainforest woods
  • 1.6 million tons of concrete
  • 17,000 tons of copper and bronze
  • 64,500 tons of steel
  • Caskets and vaults leaching iron, copper, lead, zinc, and cobalt

We need your support! Please donate to Green Burial Association of Maryland’s education and advocacy efforts to promote Green Burial in Maryland!

Maryland Cemeteries with Green Burial Options


DISCLAIMER: This list of resources is provided as a public service for informational purposes only. Inclusion on the GBAM webpage does not constitute or imply an endorsement of any kind by Green Burial Association of Maryland.


* denotes a certified Green Burial Council cemetery


* Serenity Ridge Natural Burial Cemetery And Arboretum
Windsor Mill, MD 21244
410-419-3012
www.serenityridgemd.com

Reflection Park
Green Cemetery opening soon
Silver Spring MD
413-840-6775
www.reflectionpark.org

Maryland Hybrid Cemeteries

(Green Burial & traditional sites available)

Baltimore Hebrew Belair Road Cemetery
Hybrid Cemetery
2100 Belair Road
Baltimore MD 21213
410-764-1587
www.baltimorehebrew.org/about/cemetery/

Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cemetery
Hybrid Cemetery
318 Berrymans Lane
Reisterstown MD 21136
410-764-1587
www.baltimorehebrew.org/about/cemetery/

Bestgate Memorial Park
Private Hybrid Cemetery
814 Bestgate Road
Annapolis MD 21401
410-841-6255
www.bestgatememorialpark.com

Chevrei Tzedek Congregation Cemetery
2020 West Liberty Road
Taylorsville, MD 21157
www.chevreitzedek.org
Cemetery Advisory Board email: cab@chevrei.org

Columbia Memorial Park
12005 Clarksville Pike
Clarksville, MD 21029
410-997-7800

* Garden of Remembrance
Gan Zikaron Memorial Park
Hybrid Cemetery

14321 Comus Road
Clarksburg MD 20871
301-428-3000
www.gardenofremembrance.org

Mount Olivet Cemetery 
Hybrid Cemetery
515 S. Market Street
Frederick MD 21701
301.662.1164
www.mountolivetcemeteryinc.com

Woodlawn Memorial Park
Hybrid Cemetery
11365 Ocean Gateway
​Easton, MD 21601
410-822-4282
info@woodlawneaston.com
www.woodlawneaston.com


* ​The Green Burial Council offers certification programs for burial grounds. Certification is awarded to providers that demonstrate compliance with the established Green Burial Council standards, designed to create sustainable practices in the funeral industry, and to preserve and steward land through burial.  https://www.greenburialcouncil.org/cemeteries.html



Consumer Advocacy

Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting a consumer’s right to choose a meaningful, dignified, affordable funeral. Here is a link to the Maryland branch. The Funeral Consumers Alliance website lists local contacts in adjoining States. https://mdfunerals.org/

Your Legal Rights

National Home Funeral Alliance https://www.homefuneralalliance.org/

Articles & Podcasts

https://www.wypr.org/show/midday/2023-04-20/green-burials-the-growing-appeal-of-new-earth-conscious-interment

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/03/28/green-burial-funeral-maryland-dc/

Options for ‘green’ burials grow in Chesapeake region | Pollution & Solutions | bayjournal.com by Whitney Pipkin January 25, 2023

Maryland’s First Green Cemetery to Open Next Month in Windsor Mill MD, Baltimore Sun, November 29, 2022

Serenity Ridge Burial Cemetery and Arboretum, Baltimore Sun, November 28, 2022

Maryland family seeks to turn property into a new green graveyard in Baltimore County, by Taylor DeVille, November 7, 2021


Videos & Films

Deeply Rooted, a film about conservation burial by the Conservation Burial Alliance, 2021

The Grave Realities of Graveyard Realty Equity, inclusion, and diversity in the conservation burial space with Carlos Gonzales of Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, EBECC, 2022

The Natural Burial Experience video takes a visitor through a typical green burial with photos and helpful information. Lee Webster, October 2022

Cremation Curious, a short video that explores incomplete disposition processes, including flame cremation, alkaline hydrolysis, and natural organic reduction, Lee Webster, November 2022

The Underground Truth About Vaults explains how grave liners came into being, Lee Webster, September 2022

Taking Back the Process: The Handmade Funeral of Loie Knowles, Jan Sturmann, 2019


Books

  • Grave Matters by Mark Harris
  • Greening Death by Suzanne Kelly
  • Reimagining Death by Lucinda Herring
  • Our Last Best Act by Mallory McDuff
  • Changing Landscapes by Lee Webster
  • The Natural Burial Cemetery Guide by Ann Hoffner
  • The Green Burial Guidebook by Elizabeth Fournier
  • The After-Death Care Educator Handbook by Lee Webster
  • Final Rights by Carlson & Slocum
  • The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford
  • This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust
  • Home Funeral Ceremonies by Donna Belk and Kateyanne Unullisi
  • Preparing for a Better End: Expert Lessons on Death and Dying for You and Your Loved Ones by Dan Morhaim, MD with Shelley Morhaim


Green Burial Supplies

This is a list of Maryland-based companies that manufacture a range of eco-friendly funeral containers and related products. Many products are designed and made by cottage artists and craftspeople, often, with locally-sourced native materials using time-honored techniques. We’ll be updating this list as new information becomes available.

Reside Burials
Carrie Shipton, Baltimore City
Products: Shrouds and caskets
Email: carrie@merriam.studio
Phone: 443-690-7039
Website: www.resideburials.org

Additional environmentally conscious, handcrafted funeral materials made by artisans are listed by the Funerary Artisans Collective at: https://www.funeraryartisanscollective.org


DISCLAIMER: This list of resources is provided as a public service for informational purposes only. Inclusion on the GBAM webpage does not constitute or imply an endorsement of any kind by Green Burial Association of Maryland.



Nonprofit Organizations

The Funeral Consumers Alliance has been dedicated to protecting consumers’ right to choose a meaningful, dignified, and affordable funeral for over 30 years. The local Maryland affiliate has specific information for Maryland residents. Funeral Consumer Alliance National 

Funeral Consumer Alliance Maryland Affiliate 

The Green Burial Council has educational materials to help learn more about green burial and how to find certified cemetery stewards, funeral professionals, and funerary product sellers who share the commitment to create more sustainable after-death options for you, your community, and the planet. Green Burial Council 

The Conservation Burial Alliance is a group of conservation burial operators and those interested in promoting and developing sites that utilize burial on protected land as a way of saving land while increasing social and environmental access to natural spaces. Conservation Burial Alliance 

Funeral Partnership.org websites explain the law, the how-tos, and the fine points of funerals in each state, with particular emphasis on family-directed funerals in preparation for natural burials. Maryland Funeral 


We need your support! Please donate to Green Burial Association of Maryland’s education and advocacy efforts to promote Green Burial in Maryland!