Green Burial, Greenest States to Die I
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These Are the Greenest States to Die In, According to a New Report

Sophie Hirsh - Author
By

Dec. 27 2022, Published 2:34 p.m. ET

As more and more humans have become concerned with living sustainably, a growing population has also become concerned with dying sustainably. Fortunately, there are a number of companies across the U.S. that offer eco-friendly burial methods, from human composting to water cremation. That said, these practices are not available in every state.

So, a new report analyzes the greenest states to die in — you know, in case you feel like moving across the country to spend your final days. But what states even allow green burials?

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Columbarium
Source: iStock

A columbarium wall near crematorium.

What states allow green burials? A new report analyzed which states are the greenest to die in.

For the report, Choice Mutual Insurance Agency, a final expense insurance marketplace, looked at a few factors when determining which of the 51 U.S. states and districts (including Washington, D.C.) had the most eco-friendly death care options.

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One factor the report looked at how was how accessible green burials are in each state. The three eco-friendly burial options that the report analyzed were:

  • Aquamation (aka water cremation and alkaline hydrolysis), which is when a body is cremated using water and natural alkali salts instead of fire, resulting in white, brittle bone ash. This process is legal in about 20 states, as listed by US Funerals Online.
  • Body composting (aka human composting, natural organic reduction, and terramation), in which a body is placed in a vessel and composted into soil. This process is legal in five states: California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.
  • Natural burial, which is when a body is not embalmed, and is placed directly into the ground wrapped in a biodegradable casket to naturally decompose. This is legal in every state, though not every state has facilities that offer natural burials.
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Digging a Grave
Source: iStock

The agency also looked at the per capita emissions of current burial decisions in the U.S. It found that more than 90 percent of burials are either traditional cremations or standard burials — meaning less than 10 percent of people are opting for sustainable burials.

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According to Choice Mutual, the average cremation emits 534.6 pounds of CO2, a standard burial emits 250 pounds of CO2, aquamation emits 53.4 pounds of CO2, and a natural burial does not emit any CO2, instead sequestering 25 pounds of it. Human composting was not included in the graph, as there was not enough data on its emissions.

It's important to note that the study only looked at CO2 emissions for this report, and not other pollutants or hazards involved in each burial process.

Greenest States to Die In
Source: Choice Mutual
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What is the greenest state to die in? Utah came out on top.

Choice Mutual combined the above data to determine which states are the greenest to die in, based on the current emissions impacts of people’s burial decisions in each state, and how accessible green burial services are in each state.

Overall, Choice Mutual determined that the greenest state to die in is Utah, as it had an emissions impact of 1, and access to six different sustainable burial services. Both water cremation and natural burials are legal in Utah, though body composting is not.

Here's the full list of how all 51 states and Washington, D.C. ranked, from the most green state to die in to the least.

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Overall RankStateEmissions ImpactSustainable Burial Services Access
1Utah16
2Colorado93
3Washington134
4Vermont151
5Oregon292
6California515
7Maryland611
8Georgia718
9Hawaii1012
10Idaho1117
11North Carolina169
12Alaska245
13Minnesota187
14Illinois1914
15Virginia338
16Texas443
17Alabama2513
18Kansas3010
19Connecticut348
20Wyoming3720
21Massachusetts821
22Florida4519
23New York1230
24Nevada4716
25New Jersey1434
26Nebraska1745
27South Dakota2027
28North Dakota2145
29Kentucky2245
30Louisiana2344
31Washington DC2428
32Mississippi2645
33Maine515
34Rhode Island2722
35Delaware2845
36South Carolina3131
37Indiana3240
38Arizona3339
39New Mexico3537
40Wisconsin3633
41Oklahoma3836
42Iowa3941
43Tennessee4135
44Arkansas4232
45Ohio4324
46Pennsylvania4425
47Missouri4629
48Michigan4823
49Montana4926
50West Virginia5042
51New Hampshire4051

Interestingly, it appears as though state populations or population densities may have been taken into account in this report. For instance, Vermont (which has the second lowest population of any U.S. state) was ranked as the fourth most green state to die in, though the state only has one sustainable burial service.

But even if your state ranked low on the list, the good news is, there are green burial methods available in every single U.S. state, and you should be able to access a sustainable burial if that is how you would like your body to be laid to rest.

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