BELEN, N.M. (AP) — A couple in central New Mexico has started a business aimed at giving loved ones the option of saying goodbye in an ecofriendly way.

The owners of La Puerta Natural Burial Ground in Belen, New Mexico, say their "natural burial technique" is an environmentally-friendly method to honor relatives who have died, KRQE-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico ( ) reported.

Donal Key said he and his wife opened the business seven months ago. He said the process is aimed at avoiding what he called underground contamination while giving families a respectful, simple and cost effective way to say goodbye.

"There is a lot of contamination that goes into the soil with burying concrete and burying metal caskets, and with the chemicals involved in the embalming process," Key said.

According to the Funeral Consumers Alliance, traditional cemeteries put more than 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid into the soil each year.

"Green burials" like these at La Puerta Natural Burial Ground and Rhinebeck Cemetery in New York's Hudson Valley shun coffins, embalming fluid and concrete "vaults" so everything in the ground decomposes.

It's a movement that goes back more than a decade. But supporters say public attention has increased in recent years, with more cemeteries adjusting practices to demand for the burials.

Green burials turn back the clock to the days before the Civil War, when embalming caught on as a way to preserve the bodies of soldiers who died far from home. Burial vaults, which keep graves from collapsing and lawns level for mowing, became more widespread after World War II.

"It's kind of a growing movement, yes, and it has to do primarily with people wanting to take care of the environment," Key said.


Information from: KRQE-TV,