We welcome your inquiries about green burial and related matters, and have fostered a wide network of advocates and resources to assist you in your research. For referrals or to speak with a communications representative, please email the GBC and your request will be answered as soon as possible. We are currently researching more up to date statistics and will post them shortly.
Number of Green Burial Cemeteries in the US and Canada
From Lee Webster and the Green Burial Council: Total estimated number of green burial cemeteries in the United States and Canada as of September 29, 2023, is 420, though there are more that do not require vaults or have not been reported. For a complete list that is updated regularly go to Green Burial Cemeteries in the US and Canada.
Total number of GBC-certified providers as of September 29, 2023:
56 hybrid cemeteries
34 natural cemeteries
11 conservation cemeteries
205 funeral homes
16 product providers
Please note: Certification by the GBC is a choice not a requirement. Many cemeteries follow GBC standards without opting for certification. Please call ahead to inquire.
Carbon Expenditures and Sequestration from Various Disposition Methods
Vault burial emits approximately 250 lbs. of carbon, whereas green burial sequesters approximately 25 lbs. of carbon. This assumes a fifty-year life cycle of the plot, that traditional burial uses a concrete burial vault, and green burial has no maintenance (mowing, fertilizing, watering, etc.). To put this in context, this difference is equivalent to the carbon produced by an average American's driving over a three-month period. Learn more about carbon footprints of various disposition methods in Carbon Benefits of Conservation Burial by Dr. Billy Campbell and Lee Webster, 2023.
Health and Safety Data
From Lee Webster, researcher and writer. See Academic Papersfor links. Worker safety is at risk in cemeteries, factories, and embalming facilities and funeral homes:
13% higher death rate for embalmers (Centers for Disease Control, Final Rights by Lisa Carlson and Joshua Slocum)
2014 — 2019 From Mary Woodsen of Cornell University and Greensprings Natural Preserve in Newfield, New York: Burials in the United States use approximately:
4.3 million gallons embalming fluid, 827,060 gallons of which is formaldehyde, methanol, and benzene
20 million board feet of hardwoods, including rainforest woods
1.6 million tons of concrete
17,000 tons of copper and bronze
64,500 tons of steel
Caskets and vaults leaching iron, copper, lead, zinc, and cobalt
From info provided by: Steve Talley, 2001: Equipment Sales Team, Matthews Cremation, Apokpa, FL 32703; (407) 886-5533 ext 123; email@example.com Trips to the Moon: Cremation and Energy Use in the United States Ever wonder how far you could travel on the energy used in one year to cremate people in the United States? Probably not, but it’s surprising. To have some gauge of mileage, let’s consider a car that gets 30 mpg, and for perspective on the distance, we’ll speak in terms of trips to the moon. After crunching the numbers and triple checking our work, the answer is — hold on to your hats — over 1300 round trips to the moon! As they say, your mileage may vary, but here’s how we did the science based on what we believe are very reasonable assumptions. The quantity of energy used to cremate people is expressed in units of therms — where one therm equals 100,000 BTUs of heat energy — and can range from about 12 therms to 50 therms per cremation. Our assumed average for this calculation is 25 therms, based upon information from Steve Talley of Matthews Cremation in Apokpa, FL. Considering that the oomph of one gallon of gasoline is equivalent to 1.24 therms, we can begin to visualize the magnitude of the energy expended for the 1,040,923 cremations in the U.S. for the year 2010. [That number of cremations is based on the 2010 resident population of 308,745,538 and the death rate of 8.3 per thousand (2,562,588 deaths). Considering that the cremation rate that year was 40.62 percent, there would have been 1,040,923 cremations.] Knowing that 1.24 therms equates to one gallon of gas, the 25 therms of energy per cremation corresponds to the energy contained in about 20 gallons of gas. Multiplying by the 1,040,923 cremations gives us a whole lot of gas to drive our car — 20,818,460 gallons. Traveling 30 miles for each gallon, we’d be way over warranty at 624,553,800 miles. Putting this into perspective, with the moon a mere 238,855 miles away, we could have journeyed over 2600 times that distance, making the round trip to the moon about 1307 times that year! That’s well over three round trips every single day for the entire year. Cremations consume incredible energy. I’d rather return to the Earth just once.
From The Ecology Action Center, Green Burial Nova Scotia: Burials in Canada approximately:
4,500 litres of formaldehyde-based embalming fluid
97 ton of steel
2,000 ton of concrete
56,000 board feet of tropical hardwood in every acre of space
Cremation in Canada:
Uses 92 cubic meters of natural gas
Releases 0.8 to 5.9 grams of mercury
Equals an 800 kilometer car trip
From Sam Bar, quality assurance and manufacturing engineer: Cremation is erroneously thought by many to be greener:
Uses fossil fuels to reach and maintain 1900° F for two-plus hours
Releases mercury into air and water (Britain study 16%, Minnesota study 14%)
Produces 139 lbs. - 250 lbs. CO2 pp = 1.74 billion pounds of CO2 emissions annually in the United States
Includes byproducts of nitrogen oxide, dioxins, and particulates, producing acid rain
Produces a final product of calcium phosphate and sodium
From Bob Jenkins and Dave O. Carter, Verde Products, Inc., on the GBC Blog April 2019: Let’s take a look at the 1.4 million and 1.3 million decedents who underwent cremation and conventional burial, respectively, in the United States in 2017. If we assume that on average, each of these decedents weighs 110 pounds (50 kg) this means that the following elements were prevented from decomposing:
25 million kg of carbon (25,000 metric tons of carbon)