Ronald Fatoullah & Associates - Elder Law

New York's green burial options

Did you know that New York has the highest number of "green" cemeteries in the nation? You can join a movement of thousands to make your funeral as eco-conscious as your life.

Your decision over your body's final resting place could save the environment from the equivalent of emissions from a 500-mile road trip. After traditional cremation, a natural burial is the eco-friendliest option for burial today.

Natural burials offer you a chance to decompose in a cemetery without the use of embalming fluids, burial vaults or traditional caskets.

The Green Burial Council has recognized eight cemeteries in the state of New York, six of which offer natural burials. These cemeteries have committed to being low-impact on the environment and restoring the landscape to a natural state. You can recognize them in one of these four categories:

  • Hybrid burial grounds: conventional cemetery incorporating natural burial practices
    • Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester
    • Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow
  • Low-impact burial grounds: conventional cemetery with area for natural burial practices
  • Natural burial grounds: low-impact grounds with commitment to natural landscape
    • Ascension Garden-St. Francis Garden, Henrietta
    • Greensprings Natural Cemetery, Newfield
    • Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery, Rochester
    • White Haven Memorial Park, Pittsford
    • Vale Cemetery, Schenectady
    • Town of Rhinebeck Municipal Cemetery, Rhinebeck
  • Conservation burial grounds: natural burial grounds backed by a conservation organization

A Rising Wave

Currently, eight states have legalized a form of human cremation that is much more efficient and less wasteful than traditional cremation. If you want an earth-friendly alternative to the current popular cremation methods, look no further.

"Aquamation" (also known as alkaline hydrolysis, flameless cremation, resomation or water cremation) uses an alkaline solution heated to 306F to affect a body in a few hours the same way it would be affected after being interred for over a century. Afterwards, the softened skeleton is reduced to a fine powder similar to cremains that your family can bury or scatter appropriately.

California and Minnesota have used aquamation for over a decade in educational medical institutions. Eight additional states offer aquamation for pets, but not humans.

  • In 2011, a bill was introduced to the New York congress to legalize aquamation. It was nicknamed the "Hannibal Lecter" bill by religious groups who opposed it.

When it comes to funerals, you have more options today than even a decade ago. It is your right to be buried as you wish and if that includes being environmentally conscious, be sure to include your wishes in your pre-funeral planning documents and discuss your wishes with your family.

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