The Underlying Philosophy

Why Choose Natural Burial?


Natural burial is recycling at its best. The practice is not new to North America, and has long been commonplace in remote communities and some First Nation communities. In most of the westernized world, however, natural burial was replaced more than a century ago by the advent of the death-care industry, which effectively separated people from long-time practices relating to care of the dead.

Today, many people are seeking a more gentle approach to after-death care. As well, the growing desire to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gases has led many to question the procedures used in conventional burials and cremation and to seek a less wasteful and more environmentally friendly approach to burying the dead. Finally, natural burial is attractive simply because it is less costly than conventional burial.

The terms ‘green burial’ and ‘natural burial’ are used to describe practices ranging from a slight variation of conventional burial to the creation of natural areas of high ecological and social value. In most instances the following features are considered essential to the concept of natural burial.

  • Embalming is not used.
  • The body is wrapped in biodegradable material.
  • The coffin or other container is biodegradable.
  • Concrete vaults are not used to enclose the grave.
  • Tombstones are not used to mark the grave.
  • Landscaping is minimal.
  • No chemical fertilizers or biocides are used.


Abstract of Sword Fern


Three non-profit organizations in North America encourage people to choose green burial. Founded in California in 2005, the Green Burial Council was established to promote natural burial through education and increased awareness and to encourage the establishment of natural burial grounds. The Natural Burial Association is located in Ontario and was also formed in 2005 with much the same aim. Founded more recently in 2013 and based in Vancouver, the Green Burial Society of Canada is furthering the work to raise awareness, encourage providers to offer green burial as an option and establish Canadian standards for green burial.

The Green Burial Council has established certifiable Green Burial Council Standards for burial grounds that describe three categories of practice, with increasingly stringent requirements to protect environmental values and promote land conservation. The Denman Island Natural Burial Cemetery is designed to meet the conditions of the highest of these categories—‘Conservation Burial Ground.’