Prior to embalming, a practice started with Civil War-era doctor Thomas Holmes to send soldiers home, a simple pine box was used at home in a more personal farewell. Traditional burials can now easily surpass $10,000! After a house and car, burials are a person’s third-largest personal expense. Today, the mortuary industry is a $25 billion-a-year industry. “When you’re grieving, it’s really hard to say, ‘What’s the cheapest casket you’ve got?’” says Karen Leonard, an activist who helped the late Jessica Mitford update her 1963 exposé, “The American Way of Death.” Mortuaries know a grieving family wouldn’t dare ask this question and use their grief to upsell unnecessary services and expensive merchandise like exotic wood or metal caskets.
Sidenote: A unique California company is recycling steel coffins into one-of-a-kind couches. These are coffins that have defects or are older models (read: they have not been used by the deceased).
According to National Geographic, every year American funerals consume:
- 30 million board feet of casket wood,
- 90,000 tons of steel,
- 1.6 million tons of concrete for burial vaults,
- 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid,
- and thousands of acres of land.
A Natural Alternative
Baby Boomers don’t want to spend life separating paper from plastic, just to put concrete, metal and chemicals back into the ground,” says Clint Crary, whose Pioneer Burials in Sacramento, California, is a leading provider of natural burial products. “They don’t want to live a life that is environmentally friendly, then have their funeral not be.”
- 70% of AARP Magazine readers prefer eco-burials
- More than 100,000 people visit the Green Burial Council website each month
- Natural burials are one-third the cost
- Natural cemeteries have 95% less density
- No laws in the US require embalming
Want to read more about natural funerals? You might like these:
- Traditional Funerals Are Bad For the Planet
- Planning Your Green Burial
- Green Burials Offer a Natural Alternative
- The Dangers of Embalming Fluid and Traditional Funerals
- Memorial Ecosystems Started the Trend for Eco-Burial Sites Across the United States
- Steel Coffins Are Becoming Unique Couches in California