Traditional Funerals are Bad for the Planet

Categorized | Lifestyle


Rare wood coffins covered in toxic lacquers are not only overpriced, but bad news for the planet. In addition to these over-resourced and expensive coffins, the embalming fluids are full of toxic chemicals and traditional cemeteries need a lot of water and chemical fertilizers to keep those acres of lawns manicured. It’s no wonder traditional funerals are unnatural and harmful for our environment.

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“With a typical modern funeral, the body is laid naked on a stainless steel embalmer’s table, bled out, and pumped full of noxious chemicals to keep the body fresh. Following the viewing, the body is sealed inside a metal casket or lacquered wooden coffin lined with plush satin and adorned with beautiful brass accessories… which is then lowered into a concrete vault and buried.”

– The Centre for Natural Burial (Learn more about ‘The Truth about Conventional Burial‘)


Over 30 million feet of hardwoods are buried in the earth every year because of those beautifully over-resourced, lacquer covered expensive coffins. We are destroying forests for these typically rare hardwoods. If that wasn’t bad enough these are then transported causing even more environmental damage on their way to the funeral homes. In addition to these wooden caskets, coffins are also the reason for 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, and 90,272 tons of steel being buried, on average, each year.


Embalming fluids are pumped into the deceased with various dangerous chemicals to allow viewers at a funeral to see their family and friends one last time, in a natural state. It’s ironic how it’s necessary to use a mixture of so many unnatural ingredients; formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol, antibiotics, and more, just to look as natural as you can. These toxic embalming solutions are leeching their way into our soil and polluting our water supplies. What other effects will these chemicals have on the surrounding environment? It’s hard to say, but it’s estimated that 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid is buried every year in the United States.

*FYI: It’s not legally required to be embalmed in the United States. The only reason you must embalm is when being transported by airplane in North America.


Traditional graveyards require the mass clear-cutting of thousands of acres. Then the water and upkeep to maintain green grass is astronomical.


After reading about the harms of a traditional burial, you might have begun to consider the idea of cremation. Unfortunately, cremation also takes a hefty toll on the planet. Did you know that every time a body is cremated between 0.8 and 5.9 grams of mercury is released? This might not sound like much, but this can result in 1,000 to 7,800 pounds of mercury per year – 75% will enter the air, while the remaining 25% ends up in the ground and water. (Learn more about Incineration.)

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