How to Decrease the Environmental Impact of Cremation Funerals On Our Planet
Cremation funerals can put a huge strain on the environment considering every year 2,626,000 Americans die. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, 50.2% of people choose cremation in 2016. When you look at the situation at a national scale, this means that over 1.3 million Americans will require cremation as well as a cremation urn. Similarly, roughly 500,000 people die every year in the UK, which has a cremation rate of 75.4% as of 2015. This corresponds to 377,000 people requiring cremation and the accompanying memorial products and services.
These negative environmental factors that go into a cremation funeral are not very visible to the average person. This layer of obscurity results in people overlooking the many negative consequences cremation funerals have on our environment. By bringing transparency to this topic, as well as shedding light on ways to decrease the impact of cremation funerals, we can begin to utilize more environmentally sustainable funeral practices in the future.
Consider Not Embalming
While embalming is used more frequently in burial style funerals, it is also used to preserve the body of the decedent if an open funeral or viewing has been planned before the cremation.
It is important to know that embalming fluid consist of a cocktail of chemicals that are toxic to animal and plant life. The main ingredients of embalming fluid are formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, phenol, humectants, dyes, anti-edemic chemicals, and disinfectants. The manufacturing process of the chemicals that form embalming fluid are detrimental to our environment. By choosing to not use embalming fluid for the funeral, you are helping prevent needless waste and pollution from contaminating our soil and waterways.
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that America leaks 827,000 gallons of formaldehyde-based embalming fluid into our planet every year according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
Choose a Biodegradable Urn
There are so many natural alternatives to choosing a traditional urn or casket. Biodegradable wood or wicker urns completely break down into compounds that are quickly reabsorbed back into the environment. The impact of biodegradable urns on the environment is negligible and amounts to the resources and energy used to create the urn.
Most biodegradable urns are made from:
- Rock Salt
When compared to traditional metal or glass cremation urns, it is obvious that much less energy is required to create a biodegradable cremation urn versus welding a metal urn. If you are trying to have a ‘green’ funeral then it just makes sense to get a biodegradable urn.
If you are interested in preserving the memory of a loved one with a wood urn then check out our Wood Urn Collection.
Funeral Homes Utilizing More Efficient Crematoriums
Alongside the rising popularity of cremation is also the technological advancements happening in funeral homes to make crematoriums more efficient with regard to energy consumption. Similar to the competition among car manufacturers to create efficient and electric vehicles, crematorium manufactures are also competing to decrease energy consumption and the time needed to reduce a body to ashes. As more funeral homes upgrade their crematoriums in order to decrease their own energy bill and decrease their carbon foot print, we can expect pollution rates associated with the funeral industry to decline. Funeral homes are also joining the renewable energy movement with solar panels being installed on individual funeral homes to power their businesses. These green practices are considerably more sustainable. In fact, the major argument against the environmental friendliness of cremation is the amount of energy used to power the incinerator. If the energy used to power funeral homes all came from solar panels installed on site there would be a very minimal amount of resources and carbon emissions corresponding to the cremation funeral industry.
Hopefully this article shed some light on a topic that seldom gets the spotlight. If you are ever planning a funeral, please read How To Save Hundreds On Funeral Expenses for more information.
Sarah Giavanio is the marketing Director of Safe Passage Urns which is a company dedicated to providing unique, one-of-a-kind cremation urns to memorialize the ashes of a loved. Sarah also manages the company blog which was created to provide helpful information to people about minimizing funeral expenses and effective funeral planning.