DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The City of Durham will soon be one of the first public cemeteries in the state to allow green, eco-friendly burials.

Durham City Council approved an ordinance change this week, allowing green burials in city-owned Maplewood and Beechwood cemeteries. 

A green burial means the body isn’t embalmed and there’s no casket or vault.

Al Walker with the City of Durham said that’s because the chemicals from embalming fluid and metal from the vault can have a negative impact on the environment.

“There’s a possibility that those contaminants can reach streams and waterways and even find their way into our drinking water,” Walker said.

Walker tells CBS 17 the body can be wrapped in a shroud, then it will be buried about 3 to 4 feet underground, compared to your normal six feet. Environmental experts say green burials allow the body’s nutrients to return to earth.



On the financial end, City of Oaks funeral home owner Edward Kosmos says going green can often be cheaper.

“The funeral home’s gonna charge you a thousand dollars for it. Again, you could go online and purchase your own and it’s probably going to cost you a hundred dollars,” Kosmos said.

The city says it hopes to have the green burial program in place by next summer.