A green burial is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact. There is 1) no embalming, 2) the burial container is made from natural/plant derived materials or a cloth shroud is used, 3) there is no vault or grave liner, and 4) either no marker or just an in-ground plaque or stone is used. The Green Burial Council certifies three types of cemeteries: 1) Hybrid, 2) Natural, and 3) Conservation Burial Grounds. There are 2 hybrid cemeteries in central Illinois, Sunset Memorial Garden in Danville and Roselawn Memorial Park in Springfield. These are conventional cemeteries that have a section for green burials. The closest natural cemetery is Oak Hill Cemetery, Crawfordsville, IN. Natural cemeteries allow for green burial in a natural setting with native plants & terrain. A conservation burial ground has recently opened near Galena, IL overlooking the Mississippi River. Casper Creek Natural Cemetery offers full body natural burials, burials of cremains, and ash scattering. It differs from a natural cemetery in that it is part of a land trust. Profits are directed to land acquisition, land protection, land restoration, and land management. The burial area also becomes hallowed ground, restored to its natural condition and protected forever with a conservation easement.
Regardless of cemetery choice, Illinois law requires that you work with a funeral director. When selecting a funeral home, you should ask whether they can facilitate green burial. This means that there would be no embalming of the body (refrigeration is ok if the burial will be delayed more than 24 hours). For green burial the body container must be made from plant-based materials. Examples would include simple wood caskets (no metal), woven reed baskets, or cloth shrouds. You have the right (Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule) to select or provide any burial container. It can be purchased from the funeral home, purchased online, or hand-made.