2023’s Best States for Green Burials

In the forest, a heart-shaped stone and a heart-shaped piece of wood sit against the mossy base of a tree.

Where can you easily plan a natural burial?

To mark Memorial Day on May 29, Lawn Love ranked 2023’s Best States for Green Burials.

We compared the 50 states based on four categories. We factored in access to green burial locations, funeral homes specializing in natural burials, and demand, among 18 total metrics.

Explore green funeral options in our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the states, see our methodology.

In this article

State rankings + infographic

See how each state fared in our ranking:

Infographic showing the Best States for Green Burials, a ranking based on access to green burial locations, funeral homes specializing in natural burials, local interest, and more
Note: For presentation purposes, not all ties may be displayed for some metrics above.

Top 5 close up

Check out the slideshow below for highlights and lowlights on each of our top five states.

A palm tree frames the Hollywood Sign, which stands on top of a hill on a clear blue day.
No. 1: California | Overall score: 61.32

Provider Access: 1
Burial Locations: 1
Financial Advantage: 50
Demand: 5

Photo credit: Edgar Colomba | Pexels | Pexels License
The North Carolina state flag waves in the wind on a clear blue day.
No. 2: North Carolina | Overall score: 40.75

Provider Access: 6
Burial Locations: 5
Financial Advantage: 25
Demand: 2

Photo credit: Mark Stebnicki | Pexels | Pexels License
The Ohio Capitol building stands in downtown Columbus.
No. 3: Ohio | Overall score: 38.92

Provider Access: 4
Burial Locations: 3
Financial Advantage: 29
Demand: 8

Photo credit: Larry Syverson | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
The massive Pennsylvania State Capitol looms over a fountain and a lush park on a sunny day.
No. 4: Pennsylvania | Overall score: 36.80

Provider Access: 5
Burial Locations: 7
Financial Advantage: 23
Demand: 3

Photo credit: Warren LeMay | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
Boats float in the Boston Harbor as the city’s skyline glistens in the background on a cloudy morning.
No. 5: Massachusetts | Overall score: 34.01

Provider Access: 13
Burial Locations: 2
Financial Advantage: 41
Demand: 16

Photo credit: Mohan Nannapaneni | Pexels | Pexels License

Key insights

The gist

With high environmental concern and limited urban burial space, many Americans are considering more natural options for their end-of-life plans. 

Our top-ranking states — California (No. 1), North Carolina (No. 2), and Ohio (No. 3) — offer plenty of green burial providers and locations. These states have high demand in natural burials, despite low Financial Advantage compared with other states where traditional burial and cremation are more expensive. 

Meanwhile, Delaware (No. 47), Montana (No. 48), and Nebraska (No. 49) landed at the bottom of our ranking, alongside Alaska in last place. Far fewer residents are interested in eco-friendly burials and lack access to providers and green burial sites.

Standout stats

  • Golden green burials: With over a 20-point lead ahead of the next state, California finishes in first place overall, as well as in Provider Access and Burial Locations. While traditional burial options are most affordable in California, this state offers the most natural burial sites and tree burial forests. The Golden State also boasts the second-highest number of green cemeteries.
  • Earthly legacies: Plan a green funeral with ease in Pennsylvania (No. 4), boasting the most funeral homes certified by the Green Burial Council, followed by Ohio (No. 3) and Michigan (No. 6). Ohio claims the most conservation burial grounds — a practice that turns what would be a natural cemetery into a protected wildlife conservation area. 
  • Contemporary cremation: In the U.S., cremations can generate around 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Thankfully, greener options are available in Colorado (No. 17) and Illinois (No. 12), which tie for the highest number of aquamation (alkaline hydrolysis) providers. This water cremation process is currently allowed in 28 states. 
  • Pacific Coast processions: Known for majestic scenery and promoting sustainable initiatives, the Pacific Northwest carries its eco-friendly values into end-of-life planning. Washington (No. 11) and Oregon (No. 9) both allow aquamation, body composting, and vault-free burials. Washington has the best access to body composting providers, followed by the Beaver State tied with Colorado (No. 17). Oregon also offers the most natural funeral service providers. 
  • Massive options: In fifth place, Massachusetts boasts the most green cemeteries. The Bay State also claims the highest number of hybrid burial sites, where people can choose between a natural and traditional burial. 
  • Interment interests: Residents of South Carolina (No. 10) have the highest interest in a green exit, followed by North Carolina (No. 2) and Pennsylvania (No. 4). These states also have high access to green Burial Locations. Some states — such as Louisiana (No. 34), Maryland (No. 36), and Tennessee (No. 29) — have high interest in natural burials but unfortunately lack those options. 

Behind the ranking

First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to the Best States for Green Burials. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into four categories: Provider Access, Burial Locations, Financial Advantage, and Demand. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.

For each of the 50 states, we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table.

Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each state to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A state’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 50). Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 50 due to ties.


Better Place Forests, CNN, Eirene, Funeralocity, Google Ads, Green Burial Council, Green Matters, Natural Burial Company, and US Funerals Online

Media resources

Main Photo Credit: iStock

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.