Green Burial Costs, Burial Insurance, Pros & Cons | What You Need to Know

Last Updated July 11, 2024

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A shovel that is standing upright in some dirt with tall grass in the background.

In the past few years, green burials gained popularity as one of the preferred methods of laying loved ones to rest. From tree pod burials to water cremation, there are plenty of sustainable options for you to explore, but what is a green burial, and, more importantly, how much will a green burial cost? 

With the rising funeral cost in the USA, there are plenty of factors to consider when planning a funeral for you or your loved ones, and we’ll let you know how a green burial might be the perfect fit for you or your family. Plus, we’ll even let you know how to use your final expense insurance to cover the cost of your natural burial. 

Looking for more ways to cover the cost of your funeral? Give one of our agents a call at (866) 786-0725 or use our free quoting tool to find the burial insurance that works for you.

Is a Green Burial Cheaper Than a Traditional Burial?

A funeral cost will depend on a few factors such as the state you live in, the types of services you’d like, or whether you’d like a cremation or burial service. However, on average, a green burial will be around $6,317 cheaper than a traditional burial.  Here’s how the numbers break down:

Green Burial Price Breakdown

Service Average Price
Transportation to Crematory or Cemetery
$395
Paperwork
$10-$30
Refrigeration
$35-$100 per day
Casket
$100-$700
Cemetery Plot
$1,000-$3,000
Professional Fees
$200-$1,000
Total
$1,740-$5,225

*Prices will change from state to state. Source: National Funeral Directors Association

Traditional Burial Price Breakdown

Service Average Price
Service Fees
$2,495
Transportation to Cemetery
$570
Embalming
$845
Other Preparation of the Body
$295
Use of Facilities for Viewing and Ceremony
$1,025
Hearse
$375
Metal Burial Casket
$2,500
Vault
$1,695
Total
$9,800

*Prices will change from state to state. Source: National Funeral Directors Association

What Makes a Natural Burial Environmentally Friendly?

According to the Green Burial Council, there are a few criteria that you should consider if you are looking to have a green (or natural) burial. Here are some requirements that can help you guide your decision or discussion on whether a green burial is right for you. 

No Embalming

Embalming is the act of adding chemicals to a deceased body to preserve a body before a funeral. Unfortunately, that means you’ll be adding more harmful toxins into the earth, which wouldn’t make your burial a green burial

Luckily, embalming is an optional add-on when it comes to your funeral, so you do not have to have this procedure done to your body after you pass. However, that does mean your funeral will have to occur soon after your passing. You can delay the body’s decomposition with refrigeration or dry ice.

No Burial Vaults or Grave Liners

Heavy, mass-produced burial vaults and concrete grave liners are more add-ons that funeral homes will try to sell you for your funeral. However, not only do the production of these items not decompose easily into the Earth, but they are optional as no state law requires vaults or liners

An environmentally friendly option would be to ask for a shroud made of compostable cloth or buried in a compostable container like untreated wood or cardboard

Use Non-Native Stone Markers or GPS Units

Instead of purchasing a tombstone, consider using a non-native stone or ask if GPS is available for your loved ones to easily find your resting place. Unfortunately, because of the way tombstones are produced, they will invalidate your attempt at a green burial. 

By using a non-native stone or GPS, you’ll be able to easily determine where to find your loved ones.

Can I Use Burial Insurance For a Green Burial?

Yes, you can use final expense insurance (also known as burial insurance) for your green burial. Final expense insurance can be used to cover the cost of a funeral, repay debts, or settle any monetary issues you might have had before passing. Because of the adaptive nature of final expense insurance, you will be able to use your insurance to cover the cost of a green burial. 

Here at Final Expense Benefits, we help you connect with our talented agents to find final expense insurance that works for you and your lifestyle. We only work with the top carriers in the nation such as: 

Just to name a few. Of course, if you want to reduce the stress of figuring out which life insurance plan would be best for you and your family, give our agents a call at (866) 786-0725 or use our quoting tool at no charge! 

What Other Green Burial Options Are Available?

If you’re unsure about having a green burial, there are several alternative options that you can explore that are still environmentally friendly while still being cheaper than a traditional burial. Here are a few of the options you should consider: 

Water Cremation

Water cremation, or alkaline hydrolysis, is a cremation method that utilizes a water and alkali solution, heat, and pressure in a chamber. The body is reduced to bone fragments, and those fragments are dried, reduced, and returned to the family.  Water cremation uses around 10% of the energy from a regular cremation and costs around $1,300 to $4,000 depending on your location and amount of services you’d like. However, there are only 23 states offering water cremation, so this option may not be available to you depending on where you live.

Tree Pod Burial

final expense benefits tree pod burial vs tree pod urn and different kinds of tree pod burial
Tree pod burials are becoming a more popular option for those looking for a sustainable and affordable option to commemorate the passing of a loved one. Essentially, your ashes or body will be used in the soil that will give nutrients to a tree of your choice.  We’ve estimated that a tree pod burial will cost you around $4,000, which is around one-third of the average cost of a funeral in America.

Donate Your Body to Science

When you choose to donate your body to science, either to a university or hospital, it could be used for several things including medical training, contribution to medical research, or even organ donation. Plus, you’ll be able to curb the cost of a funeral or cremation completely. Most institutions will give you your loved one’s ashes back after they have completed their testing. However, because you are giving away your body, it is impossible to know when or if your remains will be returned to your family and you won’t have a say in how your body will be used. Plus, not every body is accepted by institutions, so you should have a backup plan.  Luckily, at Final Expense Benefits, we are more than happy to review your options and help you pick which one would work best for you and your family. Just give us a call at (866) 786-0725 or use our free quoting tool, and we’ll help you get started.

Pros & Cons of a Green Burial

Pros

  • A green burial is cheaper than a traditional burial by around $6,317. 
  • You’ll be making the most environmentally conscious choice with your body after your pass. 
  • There are plenty of “green” choices for you to pick from that can be covered by final expense insurance.

Cons

  • Because of the preservation method, you must have a burial soon after you pass. 
  • There will not be a grave marker to easily find your loved one. 
  • Depending on the cemetery you’d like to be buried in, a green burial won’t be an option.

Conclusion

While we won’t be able to help you decide whether or not a green burial is right for you, we can tell you that a green burial is typically a cheaper and more ethical option when compared to a traditional burial service.  There are plenty of factors to consider, and at Final Expense Benefits, we are committed to finding an option that will work best for you. Please give one of our agents a call at (866) 786-0725 or use our quoting tool free of charge so you can review all your options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Green Burial Cheaper Than a Traditional Burial?

Yes, a green burial is around $6,000 cheaper than a traditional burial depending on the options you choose.

How Does a Green Burial Work?
There are a few rules you need to follow to guarantee that your burial is green. Here are a few of the tenants given by the Green Burial Council:
  • No embalming
  • No burial vaults or grave liners
  • Use a non-native stone marker
What States Allow Green Burials?
Green burials are legal in every state in the US. Just contact the cemetery you’d like to be buried in to see if they have green burial options or check out the list of certified cemeteries that provide a green burial from the Green Burial Council.
Can I Afford a Green Burial?
Your ability to afford a green burial will depend on several factors, but you can make expenses easier on your family with final expense insurance. Call us at (866) 786-0725 or use our free quoting tool to see all your options. 

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