Where can my relative find a green burial in the L.A. area?
April 26, 2010 7:25 PM   Subscribe

A dear relative will likely die within the next decade, and I am trying to help her plan a natural burial in L.A., but am flummoxed by California's regulations and am unsure whether it is a viable option.

My relative and I like the idea of her being buried without using any environmentally harmful chemicals (embalming fluid). We love the idea of her being buried in our enormous backyard, planting a beautiful young tree beside her grave and placing a seat nearby so that we can feel close.

We know that is impossible, because California requires all burials to occur in graveyards (either historical or current). Is there anywhere in the L.A. area (bonus, less than an hour's drive from downtown) that we could explore a natural/green burial, getting as close to our ideal as possible?

-Able to use a biodegradable coffin with no plastic liner
-Close to L.A. so we can visit easily and regularly
-Able to use green burial practices (e.g., funeral home director won't insist on using embalming fluid or anything else bad for the environment).
-We understand this is a costlier option than cremation. That's fine, but she isn't exceptionally wealthy, so very expensive private options are out for us.

I realize this question may seem somewhat macabre, but she and I are the only ones in the family who care about this, and both of us are concerned that if we don't have an explicit plan before her health degrades further, the rest of the family will just insist on cremation (which isn't a horrible idea, but we just like this idea better). Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to suggest that you contact the Funeral Consumers Alliance and went looking for a link/phone number for you. They are usually up on this sort of legislation at a local level and pretty friendly to boot. However, I saw this note on their website and figured I should pass it on
NOTE: The group known as the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Los Angeles is not affiliated with the national Funeral Consumers Alliance. We do not refer potential members or consumer inquiries to this group. If you need funeral planning advice, please call us at the national office at 800-765-0107. If you're interested in helping us start a new funeral consumer organization in Southern California, we'd be glad to hear from you! Drop us a line at fca@funerals.org
So, I suggest giving them a call.
posted by jessamyn at 7:27 PM on April 26, 2010

I think that Muslims generally have burial practices that follow what you are looking for. I Googled "Los Angeles muslim burial" and a number of websites came up. You could call one of them and ask how they organize things.
posted by esnyder at 7:38 PM on April 26, 2010

Yep, seconding searching for muslim burial methods. I don't know much but I know they don't embalm and they just wrap the body in cloth.
posted by hannahelastic at 7:40 PM on April 26, 2010

Likewise, Jewish burials do not use embalming fluid.
posted by Ruki at 7:41 PM on April 26, 2010

The Green Burial Council has come up here before; it has a "Find a Provider" page that looks like it turns up at least one business near LA.
posted by mediareport at 8:32 PM on April 26, 2010

It looks like you're going to need to find a Jewish cemetery in the LA area if you want that type of burial, but, if you're willing to have the burial in Northern California, Fernwood Cemetery in Marin is allowing "green burials."
posted by The Light Fantastic at 8:39 PM on April 26, 2010

The thing is, even the jewish burials in L.A. end with the plain coffin and un-embalmed body being put into a concrete vault in the ground. I watched at my step-grandmother's funeral and was confused -- nothing will decay in that tightly sealed concrete. My brother-in-law told me it's because city regulations don't allow all that crazy, unbridled decomposition. But maybe you don't care about that part? You can definitely get the basic, plain body treatment at a Jewish funeral home. And the entirely unadorned casket.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:19 PM on April 26, 2010

Is this website useful?
posted by small_ruminant at 1:29 PM on April 27, 2010

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