Grand Traverse Co. Cemetery Offers New Natural Burial Option

More and more people want to make sure they’re staying environmentally friendly, even after they die.

Right now, there is a growing demand for "green burials," and only one cemetery in the area offers them.

This trend is somewhat new, but it’s definitely becoming more popular and people are coming from all over to make sure their loved ones rest in peace with nature.

“The need is there and we’ve had calls from different states. We’ve had calls from the UP,” says Bob, Wilkinson, sexton at the Peninsula Township Cemetery. “A lot of people want to be buried green and live green, and they’re conscientious of being, I guess I would say, in tune with nature.”

Demand is growing for all-natural "green" burials, which includes no embalming chemicals, no concrete vaults and no tombstones. Just a shroud or wooden casket and the earth.

“I’m seeing more people looking into it. And now that we’ve had more burials, more education, people are going out there, picking a grave out there and pre-arranging arrangements,” says Vaughn Seavolt, Director of the Life Story Funeral Home.

A large span of area stretching between the cemetery’s grassy areas to the woods make up the green cemetery.

Families just pick where they want to bury their loved ones based on preference.

“With the green cemetery, the natural burial, people are thinking, ‘Okay now we don’t have to go to the cremation because there’s another option where we can bury the person’s body, but we can do it naturally without all those other things cemeteries are requiring,’” Vaughn explains.

Peninsula Township Cemetery started offering green burials two years ago.

The only unnatural thing they use is a stainless steel marker so families can find the individual graves.

“This will definitely expand. I believe we’ve had more and more –since we’ve opened –questions and people looking at green,” Bob says.

The cost is the same as traditional burials.

So far, three people are buried in the natural way, and 11 plots are reserved for people in the future; another option for loved ones to pay their respects after death.

“Families can make this what they want to with the person helping them before they die,” Vaughn says. “And so they can just make it very meaningful and do as much as they want.”

The Peninsula Township Cemetery is considering building a monument that would help people find their loved ones as the green section grows.