The green cemetery movement was prompted by a desire by people to minimize the environmental impact of their last act. To ensure your plans align with that cause, verify that the cemetery you choose is certified by the Green Burial Council (see sidebar). Following is a listing of green cemeteries in and around Michigan. For listings in other states, visit the website of the GBC.
Ridgeview Memorial Gardens
5151 8th Avenue SW
Plot: $1,895, includes lot; biodegradable casket; opening, closing and restoration of site (winter surcharge applies); granite memorial stone, engraving and placement. Price is good through 2011.
GBC Certification: Low-Impact
Ridgeview Memorial Gardens has several acres dedicated exclusively to green burial. This Natural Gardens section is adjacent to 10 acres of heavy cover and wildlife.
Peninsula Township Cemetery
Plot: $750 residents/$1,125 nonresidents
GBC Certification: Unknown
Peninsula Township Cemetery is located on Peninsula Drive between Seven Hills Road and Kroupa Road. Lots are available for purchase from the Clerk's office.
Mount Carmel Cemetery
Ninth Street and Ford Ave.
GBC Certification: None
Currently, a quarter-acre of the 12-acre cemetery is designated as a green burial area. Decedent must have “some” Catholic connection, according to Father Charles Morris, pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish, which oversees the cemetery.
The Preserve at All Saints Cemetery
4401 Nelsey Road
Opening & Closing Fee: $350-$700
GBC Certification: None
More than 50 acres have been set aside for natural burial, of which almost 15 acres of wetlands abut Lake Maceday. The property also adjoins protected government-owned land to form a contiguous parcel of natural woodlands. Shroud-only burial allowed. Catholic affiliation is not required.
Marble Park Cemetery
520 W. Main St.
Plot: $600.00 - $800.00
Opening & Closing Fee: $1,100
GBC Certification: None
No outer burial container required. All coffins/caskets must comprise 100% biodegradable material and be of sufficient structural integrity to allow lowering of the remains into the grave. Incidental metal allowed.
Eagle Harbor Cemetery
Eagle Harbor Township Office
321 Centre Street
Plot: $200 for township residents, $500 for nonresidents
Vaultless burial arrangements are made on a case-by-case basis with the sextant, Mike Braman. Call Braman at 906/289-4726.
9877 Alabama Avenue SW
Plot: $3,600 (holds two coffins)
GBC Certification: Conservation
Approximately 2.5 hours southeast of Toledo, Foxfield Preserve is the first green cemetery operated by a nonprofit conservation organization in the U.S. Each plot holds two coffins, and 50% of the fee is a tax-deductible donation to The Wilderness Center, which operates the cemetery. Michiganians wishing to bury their dead at Foxfield may drive the body by themselves across state lines. The body must be accompanied by a burial-transit permit, which is issued to a funeral director in the county where the death occurred. (Ohio law does not mandate the use of a funeral director.)
The Green Burial Council works to make natural burial in the U.S. ecologically sustainable, meaningful for individuals and economically viable for providers.
Since its launch in 2005, the GBC has developed a three-tiered certification program; set up a network of approved providers committed to reducing toxins and waste; and brought conservation groups together with cemetery operators to create burial programs that facilitate the acquisition, restoration and stewardship of green space.
Low-Impact Burial Ground, formerly called a Hybrid Burial Ground, requires the adoption of burial and operational practices that are nontoxic and energy-conserving. These facilities may lie within a dedicated section of a conventional cemetery or make up an entirely separate cemetery. A Low-Impact Burial Ground achieves GBC certification by prohibiting the use of burial vaults, the burial of bodies embalmed with toxic chemicals, and burial containers made from nonbiodegradable or toxic materials. It must also reduce pesticide use by having in place a program of Integrated Pest Management.
Natural Burial Ground certification requires adherence to all the Low-Impact Burial Ground practices and protocols and be designed, operated and maintained to produce a naturalistic appearance based on use of plants and materials native to the region and patterns of landscape derived from and compatible with regional ecosystems. Such landscapes may be part of ecological restoration, but for this level of certification complete restoration is not a requirement.
Conservation Burial Ground is the highest level certified by the GBC. In addition to meeting all the requirements for a Natural Burial Ground, the facility must further legitimate land conservation. A Conservation Burial Ground must protect in perpetuity a significant area of land specifically and exclusively designated for conservation. A conservation burial ground must involve an established conservation organization that holds a conservation easement or has in place a deed restriction guaranteeing long-term stewardship.
For more about the green burial movement, the progress being made here in Michigan, and what consumers should know before making a purchasing decision, click to FCIS's exclusive interview with Joe Sehee, Committed to the Earth: A look at the green burial movement, found on page 4 of the FCIS 2009 Egress newslette
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Funeral Consumers Information Society, also known as FCIS, is a volunteer-run nonprofit dedicated to helping Michiganians make dignified, meaningful and affordable funeral arrangements since 1961.
In 2006, our mission expanded to advocate for the re-establishment of family rights in after-death care, including family-led home funerals, and to foster sustainable environmental practices, such as green burial, in the state.
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