Welcome to Sòlas
Sòlas Natural Burial Preserve is Wisconsin’s leading innovator in green burial. We are an officially certified Natural Burial Cemetery by the Green Burial Council. Natural or “green” burial is the environmentally conscious alternative to traditional burials. We strictly prohibit embalming, caskets, metals, plastics, chemicals, headstones, concrete, vaults, and all synthetic materials. Native plants, trees, and flowers are used as an alternative to headstones, and all burials are marked by GPS.
“Sòlas” means “light” in Gaelic and is pronounced “SO-lass”.
Our burial preserve is run online, meaning you purchase your burial plot through our website, and add headstones, flowers, shrouds, tribute pages, and whatever other add-on’s you would like. The burial plots are marked via GPS as opposed to traditional headstones. When it is time to bury someone, you can purchase a plot on our website, reserve a burial time, and reserve the shelter for use during your burial. Then, you dig the burial site, bury your loved one, and close the grave. For information about the process of burial, please visit our “How it Works” page.
“Conventional” burial is the most common type of burial in United States, and it is also the most toxic. Conventional burial involves embalming, as well as the use of a casket, vault, and headstone. Embalming was created during the Civil War to preserve soldiers’ remains during transportation back home. It has become a $14 billion industry in the United States and is responsible for high cancer rates among embalmers. Every year in the United States, conventional burials use 77,000 trees for caskets, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete for vaults, and 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid (formaldehyde). These are put directly into our soils, and the effects are detrimental. Water and soil testing in and around conventional cemeteries dating back to the Civil War are still showing the presence of chemicals from embalming to this day. Alternatively, there has never been a report of any contamination in or around a natural cemetery anywhere in the world.
The United States and Canada are also the only countries in the world that routinely embalm the deceased. Many religions and ethnic groups prohibit the use of embalming. During embalming, there is no special disposal process for bodily fluids. They are dumped down the drain just like the sink in your kitchen or bathroom. Embalming is totally unnecessary, and is not required anywhere in the United States. There are no laws or regulations requiring people to be embalmed or to be buried in any type of container (although private cemeteries may create their own rules).
The casket and vault industry are another environmentally destructive addition to conventional burials. In the United States, you are not required to be be buried in any type of burial container under federal law. Caskets with treated wood are stained with harmful preservatives like arsenic that leach into surrounding soils. Vaults are large concrete structures that are placed on top of caskets to keep the soil level when the casket decomposes. These often cost thousands of dollars and their only purpose is keep the ground perfectly level so the cemetery does not have to add soil after the casket decomposes.
Cremation has been advertised as an environmentally conscious alternative to conventional burial, but unfortunately it is just as harmful. Every year in the United States, crematoriums use enough fossil fuels to drive halfway to the sun (about 9 million gallons of gas). 0.2% of global dioxin and furan emissions are created by cremations. Cremation emits carbon monoxide, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, persistent organic pollutants, and other heavy metals.
In Wisconsin, the average conventional burial (embalming, funeral service, casket, vault, etc.) costs about $20,917 in 2022 (worldpopulationreview.com). According to TIME Magazine, by 2030 the average cost of a funeral will be $60,647. Funerals burden families with unnecessary costs for years after their loved one passes. Although we encourage people to choose natural burial because of its environmental benefits, the cost savings is a huge benefit as well.
We are excited to offer an alternative to conventional burial that prevents unnecessary pollution. As humans, we spend our entire lives utilizing the resources of the Earth and creating pollution. After we die, when we are embalmed or buried in a metal/treated wood casket, we continue polluting the earth for centuries to come. The best “thank you” a person can give the Earth is to leave without a trace, and not create additional pollution for years after they are gone.