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Green Burials: Another Way To Say Goodbye

A green burial is not a new idea. But only recently has it started catching on.

Anne McQuary, Mary Soto

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Sometimes Ronnie Watts needs to pause. You can see him gathering himself, fighting back the tears that don't come as he talks about a funeral.

Watts, who's 71-years-old,is the manager of the Greenhaven Preserve in Eastover, SC.

Greenhaven is one of the first green cemeteries in the nation, and one of three in South Carolina. The other two, Ramsey Creek Preserve in Westminster, SC was the first in the nation and opened in 1998, and Dust to Dust in Swansea opened in September of 2009.

A green burial is not a new idea.

Before the Civil War, this was how most people were buried. Embalming was developed to preserve fallen soldiers during the Civil War so their bodies could be shipped home for burial.

A green burial means that there is no embalming, caskets must be biodegradable: a burial shroud, quilt or pine box will do, no vault and grave markers are usually a natural stone. It's also a lot less expensive than traditional burial or cremation.

According to Jim Dobbins, the general manager, funeral director and embalmer at Simplicity Lowcountry Cremation and Burial Services He says that a traditional service with embalming, casket, liner, open-close of the grave, hearse, cemetery plot will run about $9,000 and goes up from there. A cremation can run $4,000 and up. Green burials will typically run from $800-$4200, depending on the cemetery you choose.

Many people think that you need/must be embalmed.

It’s not the law.

Some funeral homes require it if you are having a visitation, but there is no law in South Carolina that requires it—you don’t even have to have a funeral director. Most of the green burial cemeteries in South Carolina can help you with things like transportation, if you need to wait a week before burial they can help with the storage of the body. They can help with urns and even pine boxes. If you want to know more about the laws and surveys of statewide funeral homes and pricing of each home in the state, they can be found here http://www.scfunerals.org/