The funeral industry dates back to the beginning of mankind and is one industry that all families inevitably have to deal with in their lifetime. Cremation and biodegradable urns, along with other unique memorials incorporating cremated remains such as tree urns and scattering urns, are the fastest growing part of the market and are arguably driving the most change.
Burial vs. Cremation
Every year in America about 2.7 million people die. In 2015, and for the first time ever, more Americans opted for cremation than burial. This is up from only 25% of those who passed choosing cremation in 1999. According to the National Funeral Director's Association, the trend toward cremation is expected to accelerate and jump to nearly 80% of people who pass by 2035.
There are many reasons for the surge in Americans choosing cremation instead of burials. One is religion - a growing number of people believe that cremation is an acceptable practice based on their beliefs and religion. A second is family - more and more families have members who have moved out of the community where they were raised and many have brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers living in different cities, states, or even countries. Large family burial plots are not as common as they once were and cremation is becoming more practical. Third, and arguably the main driver of the growing cremation trend, is cremation cost. The average funeral with burial ranges from $7,000 to over $20,000, however a cremation costs only a fraction of this amount.
Cost of Cremation and Urns
Many people choose cremation because it is a lower cost alternative to burial and can be much more affordable for them and their family. People who choose cremation can leave their hard-earned money that would have been spent on a full-service funeral and burial to their survivors or donate to a worthy cause of their choosing.
Cremation costs vary by what you include and where it is performed. The most cost effective way to be cremated is considered a direct cremation, which doesn’t include a service or any other ‘bells and whistles’ (typically only a simple biodegradable casket and cremation). The average cost for a direct cremation ranges from $500 to $3,000. Of course, adding a service, viewing with embalming, rental casket, etc. will add anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to the cost of cremation. With such a wide variance, it’s important to research the various options in your area and get multiple quotes before choosing your provider.
After a cremation is performed, the funeral home or cremation service provider will typically provide the family with a simple plastic or metal container with a loved one’s ashes, or give you the option to purchase or provide them with an urn of your choosing.
A majority of families choose not to keep their loved one’s ashes in the ‘free container’ provided by the funeral home or cremation service provider, but instead, purchase a more dignified urn that better fits their loved one. There are thousands of urn options available that range in cost from under a hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Below are some examples of the most common types of urns that are available.
- Traditional Urns:This includes urns made from metal, ceramic, stone, or other material. There are thousands of ‘traditional urns’ to choose from, many with their own unique look and feel. Most traditional urns are not TSA approved so it’s something to consider if you plan on traveling by plane with an urn. The average traditional urn ranges from $300 to $3,000
- Wooden Urns:This is a great option for people who love a natural look and feel for their urn that can be kept in a home or at a place of their choosing. There are many wood types available and average prices range from $200 to $1,000.
- Bio Urns (Biodegradable Urns):In line with the surge in cremation, bio urns, or biodegradable urns, are quickly growing in popularity throughout the United States and worldwide. Families love the fact that these urns will not harm the environment, are affordable, and some of the bio urns available will actually allow their loved one’s memorial to ‘give back’. Bio urns start at $50 and can be found for up to $350.
Most Popular Bio Urns and Their Cost
The average cost of a bio urn ranges from $50 to $350. Below we’ve outlined a few of the more popular bio urns and the cost of each:
- Tree Urns: These are a relatively new memorial option that lets families grow a beautiful and enduring tree memorial from their loved one’s ashes. The Living Urn® bio urn and planting system currently offers over 50 tree options nationwide, and over 20 for most areas throughout the United States. This patented bio tree system comes with a bio urn, soil additives, mulch, a 2-4’ tree of choice and comes packaged in an attractive bamboo casing. With tens of thousands of plantings throughout the U.S., and thousands of positive reviews, this special bio urn creates a living memorial that lasts for many years to come. The Living Urn ranges in price from $129 to $169.
- Scattering Urns: Scattering ashes is a very popular option for families. Eco Scattering™ is a line of patent pending bamboo urns that are all natural and only include biodegradable components. With this special scattering urn, a loved one’s ashes can be scattered at a special place, then the urn can be closed and transported to bring the remaining ashes home, or to scatter at a different place. Eco Scattering urns range in price from $50 to $100.
- Burial Urns: Burying ashes is also a common practice and there are multiple bio urns available that are made for this purpose. Eco Burial™ is one made from bamboo, a sustainable resource, that is simple and easy to use. It can be buried, or given its attractive appearance, can also be kept in the home. At $69, it is also an affordable option for most families.
- Water Urns: Scattering ashes in a body of water can be done with a scattering urn or with a new class of urns designed specifically to be used in the water. Water burials are becoming more and more common for families who live by the ocean, a lake or river. The Eco Water Urn is designed to have ashes placed in the bottom of the special bio urn, then floats like a buoy for 2 to 4 minutes before the ashes are dispersed. The Eco Water Urn is available for $129.
In summary, cremation and bio urns are both quickly growing in popularity and driving change in the funeral industry. Families can give a loved one a memorable memorial at a fraction of the price tag of a traditional burial.