Can You Be Buried Without A Casket? Green & Cheaper Burials

There are many different ways that people can be buried.  One way is to that is becoming more popular, is to be buried without a casket or coffin.

So can you really be buried without a traditional casket and what are the benefits?

Yes, it’s possible to be buried without a casket or coffin. The main reason to do this are to save money & make less of an impact on the environment. Be aware that casketless burials require a lot of planning & may not be possible everywhere. Expressing your wishes clearly to funeral homes is key.

If your loved one or you yourself want to be buried without a casket, you’ve come to the right place. In the following article, I have answered all the possible questions you may have about the procedure as well as giving you clear steps to take in planning a casketless funeral.

Casketless burials, is that a real thing?

Yes, you can be buried without a casket. It may take some more time, effort, but it can be done with research and planning. The largest factor to whether or not you can be buried without a casket is the laws of your state and locality. 

Many places do not allow one to be buried without a traditional casket, but you may use alternatives. Often it says “suitable container” for the regulations which leaves it up to the discretion of the cemetery or the local enforcement agency. 

The other major factor when finding a place to bury a body without a casket is the choice of the cemetery. The rules and regulations vary from one to another. Funeral services and cemeteries are not inclined to allow you to have a funeral without a casket. They make a lot less money.

For many, the issue is saving money and in most cases, with planning, it can be done cheaper.  Depending on your religion and finances this could limit your choices. You can always be buried on a plot of land that is not a registered cemetery, this again is dependent on local regulations.

For those with large plots of land or have relatives in areas with less stringent regulations, this could be a more viable and cost-effective option. Though it has been around for a long time, there has been an uptick and resurgence in green burials.

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What is a green burial?

The definition of a green burial can take on different meanings but, one is to be buried without a casket and no embalming fluids.  A lot of companies now specialize and are accredited to do such things. There are a lot of things to think about when planning for a funeral. As many people choose to bury a relative or to be buried without a casket you need to do your research and be aware of state and local regulations.

Is a casketless burial right for my situation?

Now that you know it is possible to be buried without a casket, you need to see if it is right for you and if so what are your options. If this is already your or someone else’s wish you need to know how to proceed with the burial. It is a tricky subject, but with more information, you can make a better-informed decision.

How to organize a burial without a casket?

Planning one’s or a loved one’s funeral arrangements is a deeply personal matter and often unpleasant. The first thing you want to do is check to see if the person has a will or documents stating how they would like to be buried. If one is found this process could be simplified. A way to find such things could be done through a will, lawyer, spouse or family. They may have special instructions that they would like you to follow. If you are setting up a will yourself for others, it would save the bereaved from doing all these steps if you have taken care of it.

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After that, you can choose whether you will be doing this by yourself or with a funeral service. Doing it on your own most likely will be more cost-effective, but will be more time-consuming. 

Knowing the law

If you are doing it on your own the first thing to do is find out the legality of it in your area. A good way to go about this is to start from the biggest regulatory bodies and work your way down.

If you are in the USA this would be federal regulation. The federal regulations have very little on funerals and leave it up to The individual States themselves. Next, you would go to your state, county, city, and municipality.  (  If you are outside of the United States, usually your home country will have national laws and it is a bit more clear cut.

Funeral home vs DIY funerals

If you choose a service, such as a funeral home you will still have to do research on which one that you want to choose. They should know the laws and regulations in your area, this should save you time and effort. It will probably be more costly and may not be exactly what you or the deceased asked for.  Make sure that you shop around and go to different funeral homes to find the best prices and services that suit your needs.

Reasons for burial without a casket

Where and how it will be performed will hinge on why you are not having a casket? Knowing why will help with how it will be carried out and depending on your situation more cost-effective. The two major reasons are financial and environmental. A third reason would be religious.

Financial reasons

Financially whether you choose a funeral home or do it yourself, odds are it will be cheaper if you do it yourself. If you do choose a funeral home the least expensive option will be a direct burial.

This is when the body is buried as soon as possible after death and there is no embalming or visitation period. It should be stated that it is usually done with a casket and one would need to specify with the funeral home about this arrangement.  For those who would like to mourn and have a ceremony that is also an option, but will cost more. 

Home funerals are an option and can vary from holding a memorial service to burying the body on a special plot of land. This may take more time if things are not sorted out ahead of time, but if it is arranged it could be quick, stress-free, and cheaper than having a company do it. This also gives the family and friends a more familiar place to gather or have the actual ceremony.

Environmental reasons

The other major cause of not wanting a casket is to be more eco-friendly. The caskets that people are put into are not usually biodegradable and are labor-intensive to create. The chemicals that are used to embalm are potentially hazardous to the environment as well. For these reasons, many are choosing to go casketless and with more natural options.

For this option again you need to do your research, but there are now many services that can help you with this if you want to go the route of a service ( If you are doing it yourself just make sure your due diligence is done.

Depending on your religion, you may opt for a casketless burial. Two religions that follow this tradition are Judaism and Islam but it is not limited to them. You should check to see what the departed’s wishes and religion were. For following the exact rules of how and what to do, I would recommend going to your local religious leader. They should be able to help you.

When you do research you may find the phrase “green burials” all over the internet, while I outlined a burial with no casket in the ground, it is not just related to that. A green burial can mean different things but is usually classified as being cremated or is burial with no embalming fluids. The body is in some sort of biodegradable box or shroud.

With more eco-conscious people out there you have more options than this.  Some of these include but not limited to being made into an artificial reef, shot into space, buried at sea,  planted in a forest, or even put into a burial pod that turns your earthly remains into a tree.

Funeral services & casketless burials.

If you have opted for burial without the traditional casket or coffin, how do you conduct a ceremony? Ordinarily, the casket is carried into the ceremony, often on the shoulders of pallbearers, who then place it in full view of the congregation.

This may be very difficult if the body is only in a cheap and flimsy container, or worst yet, a humble shroud. What’s more, some members of the congregation may not understand the choice for a casketless burial and may even find it disrespectful.

In this case, you could rent a casket to display your loved-one in during the funeral service, and then arrange for them to be removed from the rented container before burial or once the mourners have left the graveside.

Alternatively, you can take the time to explain to everyone attending beforehand the wishes and reasons behind the choice. When people are told why something will happen in advance they are less likely to be offended when met with a relatively unusual practice, at least in western culture.

Is a casketless burial really cheaper?

The biggest place you would save on with a casketless burial is not unsurprisingly the casket itself which can be a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. However, poor research or not looking ahead can mean that the cost of the funeral still remains high.

There are also hidden costs for you and those that attended the service or funeral.  These costs could be the service at the funeral home, flowers (see my recommended florists), food, plot arrangements, etc. These all add up and can be anywhere from $1,000 on the cheaper side to over $10,000. This can be more or a burden for people who are already grieving.

If you or close relatives don’t already have a will, you should get one drawn up and be specific about your wishes. If possible even have everything arranged and paid for ahead of time. It is a hard subject to bring up and talk about. But at the untimely event, it will enable everyone to be more at ease and allow everyone to be able to take care of things more easily and quickly.

A casketless burial may not always be the cheapest option if that is what you are going for. Cremation is another way that can be cheap and allow all parties involved to grieve.  I’ve written about how cremations can be a thrifty option in this article here.

Another way is to choose a different type of casket material such as a wooden box, unfinished wood, pressed wood, fiberboard, cardboard, canvas or something more eco-friendly and green. There are a lot of options now.

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Still want a casket but need a discount?

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Sometimes we just need to stick with traditon no matter the fact that it’ll cost extra. If this is the case then I can really recommend who provide very affordable caskets at prices (starting from $699) much lower than those offered in funeral homes!

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