Dying to be green? Natural burials in New York

eco-coffinPatricia Gillespie, a film student at New York University contacted me this week about her short documentary piece entitled “Dirt: Dying green in NY.”

The film aims to educate viewers on the benefits of Natural burial and introduces them to green burial opportunities in New York.

Green burials

It focuses on Greensprings Natural Cemetary Preserve; located in Newfield, NY. Greensprings is one of only 12 public green burial grounds in the USA.

The film also features the Hudson Valley Green Burial Association; a group who are opening a green burial ground and eco mortuary.

Ecological funerals

Patricia explains, “Natural Burial is a rising trend within the green movement. Already quite popular abroad and in California, Natural Burial is fast making its way to the east coast. “Dying Green” isn’t just for hippies anymore.”

Motivated not only by ecological concerns, but also economic and emotional ones, “Dirt” explores the ideas behind green burials.

Green and natural

According to the documentary, with ‘traditional’ burials, bodies are embalmed using chemicals, disinfectants are sprayed into the mouth and superglue is used to seal the lips.

With a green burial, no embalming is provided and the body is returned to the earth in as natural a state as possible.

If you want to give something back to the world, you might consider a green burial.

Dirt: Dying Green in NY from Patricia E. Gillespie on Vimeo.

What about you? What are your thoughts on green burials?

Photo credit: Eco Coffins


  1. Goo on June 22, 2009 at 10:16 am

    If someone asked me to describe your website I would say it covers every aspect of life imaginable and provides insight into greener ways of doing things – now I’m going to have to change my description to life and death. A great article, thanks.

    I read in a book called the Toxic Consumer that there is anecdotal evidence from undertakers that we all now take longer and require higher temperatures to be cremated – possibly because of a lifetime of absorbing chemical preservatives.

  2. Shroudwoman on June 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    As a person who entered into working in a Green Burial cemetery in California in 2004 and who has a green burial products business ever since I must say that Green burial is actually NOT nearly as popular in California (where cremation is around 75% )but is much more popular back east in the Great Lakes area’s of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana,Wisconsin imparticular.
    California is a very transient place where people leave their home states and their traditions to come here for wealth or to be able to be themselves freely: Gold rush, dot-com, hippies, gay movement,stem cell research etc.to name a few.
    Burial is for people who want to be near loved ones to go and visit gravesites near other family members, have ceremonies, have ritualized religious closure. Very healing really.
    Cremation is for the most part very fast, not much closure, “scattered in the wind”,certainly not “Green” but it’s huge, transcendant and most definately more popular than Green burial in California.
    Most old “hippies” and others here are almost militant in their “freedom” to be cremated coupled with a universal disdain for ALL funeral directors across the board not understanding how many wonderful hardworking, compassionate funeral directors there are who go into homes day and night,take out family members ,suicides, teen drug overdoses in the middle of the night and work with grieving families to try and help horrible situations as well as the everyday ordinary mess of dead bodies. Difficult job that deserves the same respect as any other profession.If it were not for these open-minded caring individuals working with others wanting it “Green burial would not be available across the country the way it is finally beginning to be.

  3. Mrs Green on June 30, 2009 at 7:43 am

    @Goo: Hi Goo – thank you for your description – I love that and I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It certainly gives us something to think about.

    The idea that we take longer to degrade is very concerning, but not at all surprising. Doesn’t bear thinking about really, does it?!

    @Shroudwoman: Hello Shroudwoman; welcome to the site. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. It’s great to hear things from someone who knows.

    I very much hope that Patricia; the creator of the film will visit the site to answer people’s questions and clarify the things she discovered. I’m sure you could be very helpful for her research 🙂