If you live in Metro Vancouver, you know that finding affordable space is difficult, not just for the living but also for the dead. As real estate developers look to recycle and maximize space, some cemeteries are trying to do the same thing.

A new cemetery in South Surrey has found a way to say goodbye to the high cost of dying. Heritage Gardens is offering burial plots – condo style. It’s a new concept to the family plot.

Now you can buy a plot for about $10,000 that will fit up to 12 burials. It’s 9 feet deep with room for two caskets and 8 urns. And if you make those urns and caskets biodegradable, the plot could also be recycled. That’s a fraction of the cost for a traditional family plot.

Trevor Crean and his family believe the green burial approach reflects the values of many people living in B.C. Crean said the cemetery sold around 300 plots in the first five months of operation.

“We’re not all driving hybrid cars just so at the end of our lives we can all get pumped up with embalming fluid and then go to the crematorium,” he said.

It’s estimated that every year in North America enough embalming fluid is used to fill 6 Olympic sized swimming pools. Wood caskets account for 77,000 trees, and 1.6 million tons of concrete is used to make burial vaults.

Heritage Gardens is not the first to go green. Royal Oak Burial in Victoria was the first, followed by Denman Island Natural Burial.

Heritage Gardens consists of 8.5 acres and it looks more like a meadow than a cemetery; it even has beehives, and sheep and deer have occasionally made their way onto the property. Although it’s not a large space, the green burial concept will allow tens of thousands to be buried there.

They also have an ossuary. It’s a like a large chamber inserted into the ground where cremated remains are housed. It costs $400 for that type of burial.

“It’s like a common area,” explained Crean. “You could still have the memorialization that comes with a cemetery but it doesn’t blow the budget.”

You can also buy a spot on an above ground niche wall with a marker.

And most recently, the cemetery held its first tree burial, in which a biodegradable urn containing cremated remains is placed in the ground and a tree is planted on top of it.

The rules at Heritage Gardens are not restrictive and those who prefer a tradition burial can still have one. So far, however, the more popular choice has been the greenest one.

“They can now be laid to rest with those values,” said Crean.  

Click here for more information about green burials and the impact traditional burials have on the environment.