Green Burial Cemeteries in California
Below is a list of cemeteries we are aware of in California that either accommodate green burial in the conventional section of their cemetery or have a portion of their land dedicated to green burial. Currently, California has no conservation burial grounds. Conservation burial grounds are the ultimate in green burial because they use green burial to permanently protect, preserve, and steward areas of land that are large enough to be considered a valid conservation effort.
The prices below were were obtained in June 2012.
- Joshua Tree Memorial Park (Joshua Tree): This cemetery is located near the Joshua Tree National Park and has a small section set aside from its conventional cemetery to accommodate green burial. This cemetery is approved by the Green Burial Council as a hybrid burial ground. Plots are $3,667, opening and closing of the grave is $1,200, and the endowment fee is $180. Contact Information: website
- Sunset Lawn (Sacramento): This conventional cemetery will accommodate green burial. and is approved by the Green Burial Council as a hybrid burial ground. Plots are $2,595, opening and closing of the grave is $1,990, and the endowment fee is $250. Contact information: website
- The Meadow at Westwood Hills Memorial Park (Placerville): a non-endowment fund cemetery with a section set aside for green burial. Burial plots are $1,500 and opening and closing of the grave is $750. Cremated remains can also be buried in the green burial section in a biodegradable container. The cost of a plot for cremated remains is $800 and the opening and closing is $400. Contact information: website
- Fernwood Cemetery (Mill Valley): The Fernwood Burial Ground in Marin County's Tennessee Valley is adjacent to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Fernwood property is 32 acres with part of it set aside for natural burial. Plots range from $5,000 to $25,000+, opening and closing of the grave is $1,500 to $2,500. Contact Information: website
- Davis Cemetery District & Arboretum: Davis Cemetery is an historic, endowment cemetery located in Davis, California. Green burial plots are $1,250 and opening and closing of the grave is $1,775 for a a single burial plot. Green burial occurs with the use of a vault lid, but no vault, and the cost of the lid is $400. Their website explains that the body or container is lowered onto the earth at the bottom of the grave. Earth is then packed directly around and over the body or container instead of using a traditional cement vault or grave liner. Then, a vault lid is placed on the packed dirt above the body and then more dirt is put on top of the lid in order to ensure that the grave site remains flat and stable for the weight of the memorial marker and the mowers and other equipment. Contact information: website.
What you can do if there are no green burial options in your area
We encourage anyone interested in a green burial to contact their local cemeteries, land conservancies, and city council, expressing their desire for greener options. Here are some steps you can take to make a burial as green as possible when a green cemetery is not available:
- Forego embalming. It's never routinely required by law for funerals.
- Select a wood casket or a cardboard box or a shroud for burial. There are no laws requiring particular types of caskets, however you may want to check with the cemetery to determine if they have any specific requirements. You might encounter resistance from the funeral director or cemetery, but stand your ground.
- Try to find a cemetery that will allow you to omit the use of a vault. Most conventional cemeteries require vaults so if you're unable to find a cemetery that will accommodate you, choose a concrete grave box that has an open bottom to let the body come in contact with the earth. Or, invert a concrete grave liner and use the lid for something else. You may also refuse to use a vault on religious grounds, though there may be an additional charge for special maintenance of the grave.
- If using your death to preserve and steward land is important to you, it is always possible to be shipped out of state and buried in a conservation burial ground. If this is your preference, consider White Eagle Memorial Preserve in Washington State.