Orlando, Florida

Green Burial in Orlando and Central Florida

Going green when it comes to burial is gathering pace. The green burial movement rejects burying tons of steel (in the form of caskets), chemicals (embalming fluids), and concrete (grave liners and vaults).

Only a few places across the nation carry out land conservation and human burial so natural that little comes between deceased and dirt.

Although not approved by the Green Burial Council, Florida's best-known attempt at utopian green burial -- sprawling grounds without markers, grave liners, or fertilizers -- is Glendale Memorial Nature Preserve in the Panhandle, DeFuniak Springs, to be exact, about halfway between Tallahassee and Panama City. The distance is sufficient that persons wanting to keep it green and skip embalming will need solid knowledge of working with dry ice to keep a corpse cool.

Closer to Orlando, green fans should find proprietors of Greenwood Cemetery near downtown willing to forgo the bottom layer of concrete that makes up the vault. This lets the casket rest on Earth. Might not be utopian, but it's a start. Greenwood has several more acres besides its established cemetery into which it can expand.

Otherwise, Florida leads the nation in committing cremated remains to memorial reefs, that is, green burial at sea. If the fossil fuel used in cremation isn't a drawback, becoming part of an ocean feature that will last hundreds of years is quite doable. A number of companies offer the service, including Great Burial Reef in Sarasota, and Eternal Reefs of Decatur, Ga.

The basics dictate that green cemeteries do not allow embalming fluids, nonbiodegradable caskets or permanent grave liners or vaults. Green cemeteries use products that promote natural decomposition of a body.

That said, the Green Burial Council certifies three levels of burial grounds:

Hybrid burial grounds combine conventional practices with green aspirations. In some instances, this mean vaultless burials. In other cases, land-use principles come into play.

Natural burial grounds are green cemeteries that must engage in restoration planning and land stewardship. They need not hold conservation easements but must use deed restrictions or covenants that keep the land as green cemeteries.

Conservation burial grounds are green cemeteries that partner with an established conservation group, build a conservation easements on the property, and operate on principles of restoration ecology.