Survey Results – 2014

“. . . a green cemetery sets aside open space for natural habitat and encourages the public to visit a beautiful destination for generations to come. Combining natural burials with land conservation demonstrates another way that protected land can benefit people” ~ Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust

In 2014 Green Burial Massachusetts and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust prepared an online survey that reached almost 400 people via email. Most of the respondents live in Franklin, Hampden and Worcester counties.

You can check out the full survey here, or if you only have time to read a little bit, please read below.

Why Conduct an Online Survey

Green Burial Massachusetts, Inc. (GBM) and Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust conducted an online survey in the fall of 2014 to gauge respondents’ understanding of, interest in, and desire for a green burial ground.

In addition to determining the desire and urgency for a green burial ground, GBM and Mount Grace were interested in learning about the desired locale, the type of marker people wanted, and what might be the fundraising challenges for establishing a green burial cemetery.

Summarized Results of a Survey


  • We know you are interested and based on your responses, we know green burial is in the public realm.


  • Burial grounds local to community are preferred
  • Land must be beautiful
  • A marker, of some sort, is preferred
  • Compelling financial invitation is required and worthwhile

Next Steps

  • Continue activism and education
  • Move into development and design
  • Create non-profit entity to do fundraising

A. How did you learn about green burial?

SUMMARY: Fifty percent (50%) of the respondents learned about green burial through the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA), Green Burial Massachusetts (GBM), or through a viewing of A Will for the Woods. In addition to the education provided by the FCA and GBM, we could reach a larger audience with written articles (both web and hardcopy), and do more radio interviews.

B. How soon do you intend to buy a burial plot?

SUMMARY: Less than 5% of the respondents plan to buy a burial plot in the next five years, however there’s an eager contingent of green burial followers. Several indicated they are going for a green cremation, donating their bodies to science, or have space in a church yard or on their own private property. These results indicate the need for more education on “is cremation green” and “what happens to your body after science is done with it.”

C. In what location would you prefer to be buried?

SUMMARY: Almost 50% of the respondents want to be buried in their hometown or county. Like in the local church yard or town cemetery, people like to be buried proximate to where they live or in a region that is important to them. This speaks to finding smaller parcels of land connected to existing cemeteries, churchyards, or other conserved landscapes rather than a single, stet-wide green cemetery.

D. What type of landscape is your ideal burial ground?

SUMMARY: When including the Other category, there is almost unanimous response for burial in a meadow, woodland, or place that contains both types of landscape. Most of us have an idyllic view of the cemeteries and want to be buried in one. These results speak to the importance of beauty of the land, not just the location. It guides us toward “idyllic” parcels that include woodlands and meadows.

E. What type of marker, if any, would you like on your grave?

SUMMARY: The notion of a tree or a living memorial is important, but inscribing names, dates of birth and death and even occupation is important as a statement of existence. We need to determine a plan for a marker that is aligned with green burial.

F. For some green cemeteries that have been established in other states, pledges were made by prospective plot buyers towards the purchase of land for cemetery use. We aren’t asking for a financial pledge now, but would you be willing to make a pledge in the future towards a green cemetery in Massachusetts?

SUMMARY: Only 7% said “No,” and over 20% said “Yes.” Around 70% are willing to have a conversation around making a financial pledge. These “pledge” results are quite heartening. Thank you.