A green burial is a natural way to care for a loved one who has passed with minimal impact on the environment. It is a movement that’s growing in popularity alongside the eco-conscious consumer. Green burials are focused on conserving natural resources and using only non-toxic, biodegradable materials. According to a recent study published by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council, people interested in greener burial methods rose to sixty-four percent of adults forty and over, up from just forty-three percent in 2010.
A green burial can include caskets, shrouds, or urns and does include embalming fluid or vaults.
What’s the issue with embalming fluid? Many people who are buried are embalmed to preserve the body for viewings or for religious reasons. Embalming is also performed for medical or scientific reasons. The issue with embalming is the fluid that is used. Formaldehyde is a common ingredient, which has proven health risks. A study performed by the National Cancer Institute in 2009 revealed that funeral directors or others who work at funeral homes experience a much higher rate of myeloid leukemia. Embalming fluid can also leak into the groundwater, causing contamination.
What’s the problem with vaults? Vaults are typically made of metal or concrete. While this could be considered harmless by some, the manufacturing and transporting of large burial vaults consumes a significant amount of energy, which adds to the carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. In addition, in the U.S. alone, millions of tons of concrete is used for vault production each year.
I want a green burial, what are my options? With the rise of the environmentally conscious consumer, more and more green burial options are coming available.
This includes being buried in a hemp shroud, or a simple biodegradable wicker casket. With this movement, a number of cemeteries throughout the U.S. are now accept green burials, or natural burials. There are even some “green” cemeteries dedicated to only offering these types of burials, and not allowing any embalmed bodies or vaults in the cemetery.
There are also new green urn options available, including The Living Urn, which gives you the ability to be planted in their proprietary bio urn and grow into a tree. This is a great green burial option as trees clean the air and help the environment. It comes with a tree seedling of choice and has excellent reviews online.
Another option includes having your cremated remains included in an artificial reef. While not as affordable as The Living Urn, still a unique green burial option to consider.