GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Green burials, sometimes referred to as natural burials, can be traced back to when Neanderthals walked the earth nearly 130,000 years ago. The alternative burial method is beginning to resurface, as more Americans pre-plan their funeral arrangements. Instead of a modern casket funeral or cremation, some people are opting to be environmentally friendly when it comes to being remembered.
"It's giving back what was given to me all of these many, many years," said Martha Lee. "If you see a flower somewhere or a bee, or a spider it could be part of my energy that's been allowed to go back to the earth."
Irving resident Martha Lee has already made funeral arrangements to be buried in the most natural state possible. Opting in for a green burial was a no-brainer once Lee found out that Mountain Creek Cemetery in Grand Prairie, is now recognized as a hybrid cemetery by the Green Burial Council. Lee said after decades of nurturing from mother nature, it's her duty to return back as natural as she can.
"I won't be packed away in a box, in a box in a box, in a box," said Lee. "My body will not be preserved at all; It will just deteriorate naturally like all of life."
Instead of being buried in a modern metal casket surrounded by a layer of concrete, Lee will instead be placed in a biodegradable dress, and then placed in a pine casket within 7 days of her passage into new life. Green burial funerals must occur within days after a person dies, so the body doesn't decompose too quickly.
"I'm hoping that I can specify a specific place in the cemetery, and my family could plant flowers or tomato plants you know," said Lee.
The Mountain Creek Cemetery is the grave site in North Texas that offers both modern and green burials. The only other recognized green burial site in the state is in Georgetown.Licensed funeral adviser Hugo Salazar says more and more people, especially millennials, are seeking alternative ways to be remembered.
"I've had people ask me, ‘Can you turn me into a tree, can you into me a diamond, can we plant trees or all of this, anything on my grave when it comes to a green burial?’ Yes you can," Salazar said.
Green burial costs are minimal in comparison to the standard casket funeral ceremony which can cost between $8,000 and $10,000. Salazar said the average cost of a green burial, including a funeral ceremony hovers around $5,0000