Did you know that traditional funeral burials account for over 4 million gallons of embalming fluid, 20 million board feet of hardwood, 81,000 tons of metal, and 1.6 million tons of concrete poured into the ground each year in America alone? Cremation is a slightly greener alternative but it still takes about 20 gallons of gasoline per cremation and it vaporizes heavy metals into the air from dental fillings and surgical implants.
In short, the cemetery business is not at all eco-friendly. It is also not wallet-friendly. The average cost of a burial is $9,500.
But there is a movement to change that! The Green Burial Council offers certification to funeral homes that shun practices such as embalming and lining graves with concrete so that they don’t collapse. In fact, concrete liners are used so that cemeteries can be mowed uniformly without graves swelling into mounds but in green cemeteries, natural grasses grow so that no mowing is necessary.
There are currently 82 green cemeteries in the world, but it is a growing movement. The founders of this movement hope that cemeteries become multi-use places for not only natural burials but also guided nature hikes, community round tables on death, and DIY coffin-making classes.