Natural Burial


Joshua Tree

What is a Natural or Green Burial?

To qualify as a natural burial there must be no chemical embalming of the body. You may have noticed that at Undertaking LA we do not offer embalming as a service. We aim to be as green as possible, and this is a major way we can observe this pledge.

Biodegradable materials must be used for the casket or shroud. This typically includes: renewable wood, woven willow or wicker, raw (unbleached) cotton or linen, or even paper. There are no burial vaults or outside containers used. This is incredibly rare, as in almost every cemetery operating today, burial vaults are used to keep the ground from sinking in when the casket eventually begins to break down.

In a natural burial the grave is 100% hand dug (a process your family can be involved in if you choose). Most cemeteries use large machines to save time and money. They are not permitted in natural cemeteries, which preserves the plants and even homes of animals in the surrounding area.

Why Choose a Green/Natural Burial?

There are numerous reasons people may choose a natural burial, some of which may have already been addressed above. However, for those who lean toward a more conventional funeral because they dislike the idea of a body decomposing in the ground, it is important to note that there is no scientific or other evidence that a sealing casket or embalming will preserve human remains. This means that sooner or later nature will take its course.

Despite this, each year in the United States we bury:

  • 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid, which includes formaldehyde
  • 180,544,000 pounds of steel in caskets
  • 5,400,000 pounds of copper and bronze in caskets
  • 30 million board feet of hardwoods in caskets
  • 3,272,000,000 pounds of reinforced concrete vaults and 28,000,000 pounds of steel in vaults (Source: Mary Woodsen, Cornell University)

In a time of dwindling resources, we could put much of that to better use.

Until recently, internment in an environmentally friendly burial ground was not an option. We believe that with increasing demand, natural burial options will only continue to expand in the future.

Are Natural Burials Cost Effective?

If you live in L.A., you are probably pretty familiar with our local "green" markets and the fact that paying for green often means spending more. Maybe you haven't considered a green burial because you were concerned that logic would hold true in this scenario as well.

The most basic traditional funeral price taken from a local Los Angeles home starts at around $8,000, which doesn't include the cost of the cemetery plot itself.

A direct green burial we facilitate starts, on average, at $6,681 and that includes the cemetery space.

Who do we partner with for Green Burials?

We have partnered with Joshua Tree Memorial Park for our green burials, as it is the closest non-denominational natural burial option to Los Angeles. They are family owned and operated and have been in business since 1908. For more information on their grounds or to schedule a visit to their site, click here.