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Santa Monica's Woodlawn Cemetery to Open 'Green' Burial Site Next Week  

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By Lookout Staff

Mach 23, 2017 -- "Eternal Meadow," Southern California's second "green burial site," will open at Santa Monica’s historic Woodlawn Cemetery on April 1, City officials announced Thursday.

A ceremony that includes a ribbon cutting and butterfly release is scheduled for 11 a.m. to officially open the site, which will "minimize environmental damage because no toxic chemicals, metals, or cement vaults are used," officials said.

Picture of Eternal Meadow
Eternal Meadow (Photo courtesy of City of Santa Monica)

“In keeping with the City of Santa Monica’s commitment to sustainability and the environment, Eternal Meadow offers families an eco-friendly burial option,” said Dean Kubani, Assistant Director of Public Works and Chief Sustainability Officer.

Eternal Meadow is part of a small but growing “green” movement that is replacing embalming and vaults with all-wood caskets and linen shrouds, and headstones with wild flowers, officials said.

"One is buried in a simple wooden casket or in an organic shroud," officials said. "Green burial hastens the return of the body to the earth while simultaneously providing nourishment to the plant life around it."

The site's landscaping features California-native wild flowers, plants and grasses, officials said.

The Santa Monica burial site has been certified by the Green Burial Council (GBC), a non-profit organization that has grown from one member provider when it started in 2006 to more than 300 funeral homes, cemeteries and related-product providers currently operating in 41 states and six provinces of Canada.

Ecologists say there is no scientific evidence that sealing a casket or embalming will preserve human remains, but that the traditional form of burial in a casket is wasteful.

Every year, U.S. cemeteries use more than 180 million pounds of steel on an annual basis, 5 million pounds of copper and bronze and more than 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid, which includes formaldehyde, according to GBC.

Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis and other City officials will join Woodlawn staff for the opening ceremony, which also celebrates Woodlawn’s recent designation as a Monarch Butterfly Waystation.

After the ceremony, the public is invited to take part in a Living History Tour with costumed guides "portraying notable women and men interred at Woodlawn (who will) share their stories and contributions to culture, history, and society," officials said.

Also offered will be eco-themed craft activities and event booths, light refreshments, "Movies in the Mausoleum” and a photography exhibit produced by students of the Santa Monica College Photography Department. Food will be available for purchase.

Free parking for the event can be found at Santa Monica College’s Lot 4 at 16th Street and Pico Boulevard. Big Blue Bus Lines 7, Rapid 7 and 41 serve the Cemetery.

The Cemetery is wheelchair accessible. For those requiring assistance, shuttle service inside the Cemetery will be provided.

For updates and information about Woodlawn Cemetery, Mortuary & Mausoleum events and services, visit or call 310-458-8717.

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