Connecticut Green Burial Grounds

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Connecticut Green Burial Grounds Standards


CGBG does not intend to monitor the meeting of standards. Cemeteries and burial grounds self-report their practices. Observed or suspected infractions should be reported to CGBG.

The overall objectives of green burial standards is to protect the environment, nuture nature, and expedite the return of the deceased to the cycle of life.

Burial Standards

• Bodies may not be embalmed by any nonbiodegradable chemicals. Synthetic implants, such as tooth fillings, joints, and pacemakers, are allowed if not easily removed.

• Clothing of 100 percent biodegradable material (e.g. cotton, wool, linen, etc.). No jewelry, plastic buttons, photographs, mementos, or other items unless biodegradable.

• Caskets and shrouds must be 100 percent biodegradable. No paint, varnish, synthetic materials, nails, or inorganic glues.

• Wooden caskets must be made of North American wood from nonendangered tree species. Pine and wicker preferred. Redwood, mahogany, ipê and imported woods not permitted. Biodegradable cardboard is acceptable.

Burial Ground Standards

• To qualify as a Green Burial Ground, the area of burials must be restricted to  burials meeting Connecticut Green Burial Ground standards. "Hybrid cemeteries" with adjacent green and non-green burials are not considered green burial grounds though  actual burials that meet other green burial standards may be considered green.

• Burials no deeper than 4.5 ft. at bottom. (3.5 feet optimal.)

• No vaults or grave liners.

• No traditional upright tombstones. At the discretion of burial ground administration, local stone, uncut, unpolished, and unprocessed, no larger than 2 square feet, may be engraved and laid flat at grave.

• No articial flowers or other nonbiodegradable decorations or mementos. Small flags for veterans permitted if of biodegradable material or if removed after a short period of time.

• Burial ground administrators may determine what, if anything, may be planted over graves.

• "Double-Decker" graves permitted with biodegradable dividers (e.g. spruce boughs) over lower grave.

• Graves may be lined with biodegrable wood to prevent inadvertent digging in the same spot.  Discreet temporary markers, such as half-buried brick or stakes, may mark corners until adjacent plots are used.

• Cremated remains—buried or scattered—allowed at cemetery administration discretion. Urns must be buried and 100 percent biodegradable.

• No discrimination against any race, religion, or gender. Exception:  Burial grounds owned and administered by a religious institution may restrict burials to members of that religion. Municipal burial grounds may restrict burials to local residents.

• No motor vehicle traffic other than required for transportation of deceased or access by visitors with mobility disabilities. General parking inside the green burial area is prohibited. No asphalt or concrete driveways permitted in green burial area.

• Legal restrictions and standards that apply to cemeteries generally must be respected.  If they conflict with green burial standards, the area cannot be considered a fully green burial ground.


• No mowing or trimming in green burial area other than an annual mowing in late autumn to maintain meadow.

• No fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, paints, chemicals, mulch, etc.

• Removal of invasive species encouraged but not required.

• Area must be kept clean of litter and any other nonbiodegradable materials, including items left on graves.

• A green burial ground must ultimately be allowed to return to a natural state. While the green burial area is still in active use, maintenance may allow one or more of the following scenarios:

     -- Allow nature to overtake the area, with no maintenance at all other than removal of invasive species and litter.

     -- Plant trees, wildflowers, or other noninvasive plants near or over graves with minimal maintenance, such as watering and removal of invasive species. No landscaping. No weeding. Trimming of trees permitted only for purposes of healthy growth.

     -- Maintain area as a meadow by annual or biannual mowing in late fall, with habitation by animals encouraged.

Call for Comments

Connecticut Green Burial Grounds is establishing standards for green burial and green burial grounds. We have developed some initial standards for purposes of discussion. They appear below. We seek comments from all stakeholders and interested parties, including funeral directors, cemetery associations, and concerned citizens.

Among the issues commenters may address are:

• Should there be standards for green burial and green burial grounds? Should CGBG set those standards? If not CGBG, then who?

• Should CGBG issue some kind of certification of compliance with these standards?

• Are the suggested standards suffiently comprehensive? Are they too rigorous and demanding or insufficiently so?

• Which of the suggested standards should be modified, expanded, or deleted? If so, how and why?

• Can you suggest additional standards?

Please email contents to Glenn Cheney at