Save Money By Planning Your Own 'Green' Funeral

Friday, May 20th 2011, 11:35 am
By: News 9

Kirsten McIntyre, News 9

STILLWATER, Oklahoma -- It's not something many of us want to think about, but planning your own funeral could save your family a lot of money.

In fact, going "green" can help save green.

Bill Bernhardt calls a plot of land in Payne County his labor of love. It's Oklahoma's first "green" cemetery.

"For a person who's lived an environmentally friendly life and believes in all the environmentally ways of living, they may want to have an environmentally friendly way in death. This is all about the legacy you want to leave," Bernhardt said.

Bernhardt is a former funeral director. He began this project nine months ago when he realized the need. It's still a work in progress and no one has been buried at the cemetery yet, but Bernhardt says he's getting interest from all over the state.

"There's no vaults or caskets and the people are buried in a shroud, a biodegradable shroud."

Bodies will be buried just four feet underground and they won't be required to be embalmed. There also will not be any grave markers. The names of those buried in the cemetery will be engraved on a large monolith.

"You might consider this a retro cemetery in that this is way they buried people 100 years ago and so this is not really new, but it's resurrecting something old," Bernhardt said.

A "green" funeral can be much cheaper than a traditional funeral and burial. According to, the average cost of a funeral in 2009 was $7,500. Caskets alone can cost from $600 to $10,000. A plot typically costs an average of $1,500, and a gravestone can cost the same amount.

The cost to be buried in a "green" cemetery is about $1,000, but that does not include additional expenses for the funeral and other items.

Learn more about Green Haven Cemetery