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Wooden casket for green burials

What does a green burial entail?

Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium is proud to be part of the ongoing and growing green burial movement for nearly 20 years.

More and more consumers are understanding the potential impact the traditional burial industry has on the environment. For example, the metal equivalent to more than 700 Statues of Liberty are buried each year in the 22,000 cemeteries in the United States alone.

As we look to reduce our negative impact on the environment in the way we bag our groceries, drive hybrid vehicles, enjoy sustainable seafood, etc., it makes sense that we would have a similar forethought when it comes to planning funerals for ourselves and our loved ones.

What is a green burial?

What is a green burial? Simply put, a green burial reduces many of the elements that have been involved in traditional burials over the previous 150 years. Bodies for green burials do not necessarily get pumped full of embalming fluid. Wooden coffins that will degrade in the earth are often used, in place of metal. This topic has grown so quickly that we put together a free, green burial e-book for your use.

The practice of green burials hearkens back to what families did prior to funeral homes. The body was bathed, dressed and placed in a wooden box, shown for friends, and buried on the family land, degrading back into the earth.

Phaneuf was the first funeral home in New Hampshire and Vermont to be approved by the Green Burial Council. We feature a variety of green services, including body preparation and a willow-branch casket that is compliant with green cemetery regulations.

“I feel the green burial movement is crucial to restore this freedom and choice, both during the actual death and in the arrangements made after death, and to enable a more ‘natural’ death, surrounded by one’s loved ones in one’s own surroundings,” said Elizabeth Fournier, author of the recent book, “The Green Burial Guidebook.” As a green funeral director, Elizabeth is proud of her nickname, “the Green Reaper.”

Cemeteries around the United States have been adding hybrid green areas to their grounds. Many of these do not allow traditional headstones, but instead have indigenous rocks to mark a grave. These green burial cemeteries do not typically allow bodies that have been embalmed and only allow burial receptacles that will eventually break down in the ground, such as wood or a burial shroud. There are now several green cemeteries in our region:

In Massachusetts:

  • Mount Auburn Cemetery (hybrid), Cambridge, MA 02138, (617) 547-7105
  • Town of Hawley Cemeteries (hybrid), Hawley, MA 01339, (413) 339-4091

In New Hampshire:

  • Chocorua Cemetery (hybrid, vaultless burial) Tamworth, NH 03886, (603) 323-8617
  • Laurel Hill Cemetery (hybrid) Wilton, NH 03086, (603) 654-6602
  • Monadnock Quaker Meeting, Friends Natural Burial Ground (private), Jaffrey, NH 03452, (603) 532-6203
  • Tamworth Town Cemetery (hybrid, vaultless burial), Tamworth, NH 03886, (603) 323-8617
  • Richmond Cemetery (hybrid), Richmond, NH, (603) 903-2184

In Vermont:

  • Meetinghouse Hill Cemetery (hybrid), Brattleboro, VT 05301, (802) 257-0712

For more information, read our blog post “Green Burial FAQs”

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