As the world changes and climate change progresses, cemeteries worldwide are approaching capacity. Meanwhile, space-saving practices such as grave leasing are becoming more common.
When the time comes to say goodbye, you may find yourself wishing you’d made plans earlier.
While our funerary traditions are valuable, it’s clear that we’re swiftly approaching a paradigm shift. Today, every cemetery burial contributes to our environmental woes. That’s why many eco-conscious individuals are contemplating the environmental benefits of cremation.
We’ve created this guide to help explain the ecological impact of cemetery burial. We’ll explain the environmental challenges of traditional funeral practices. Finally, you’ll learn about the green benefits of choosing cremation as an alternative.
Continue reading to learn how eco-conscious Texans are planning ahead for greener tomorrows.
Why Cemetery Burial Isn’t Eco-friendly
In the abstract, traditional cemetery burial seems like an inoffensive practice. Some historians believe humans have been observing this ritual for 100,000 years. In the meantime, industrial revolutions, chemicals, and rising real estate costs have introduced complications that impact how we grieve.
We’ll outline some sustainability issues surrounding modern cemetery burial below.
Cemeteries Take Up Space
Cities have a finite amount of space. In fact, many cities are facing housing crises, leading to rent hikes and displacement.
Cemeteries, at their core, are vast swaths of land. Often, older cemeteries pre-date current city grids. They are accessible to public transportation, centrally located, and convenient.
If we could reclaim that land, we’d add a great deal of affordable space for development. Cities could be more walkable, leading to fewer harmful emissions.
While our dead are worthy of a peaceful resting place, cemeteries make it challenging to address the needs of the living. When so much land is off-limits for development, cities become more congested. This contributes to unattractive new structures, high rent, and industrial waste.
Cemeteries Introduce Environmental Challenges
When we bury a loved one, we introduce foreign objects into the environment. Like it or not, this fundamentally changes the local ecosystem. By destabilizing the soil, we make it unfit for future development.
Meanwhile, our cemeteries are running out of space. These finite areas cannot accommodate further growth. Some cemeteries are leasing graves or starting recycling programs, while others are turning families away.
Without a significant change, the concept of the cemetery is not sustainable.
Burial Materials are Unsustainable
In the past, cemetery burial was a simple process. We buried our unembalmed loved ones without caskets. Today, the burial industry uses millions of feet of wood, hundreds of thousands of tons of steel, and millions of tons of concrete to craft coffins each year.
Not only does this waste vital natural materials, but it also contributes to pollution through unsustainable manufacturing processes. One could use the same quantity of materials to construct 4.5 million new homes for the living.
Embalming Chemicals are Toxic
Embalming chemicals weren’t commonly used in burials until the death of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Very few contemporary burials utilize anything else. Today, government organizations recognize many embalming chemicals as carcinogens.
Unfortunately, that means the same chemicals that help preserve your loved ones are highly toxic to the living. When we bury an embalmed individual, we introduce those chemicals into the soil. Once there, they can infiltrate our air and water supply.
Burial Impacts Groundwater
Decomposition is natural, but it doesn’t always benefit the environment. As the body breaks down, it produces leachate. This substance introduces harmful bacteria and viruses into the soil.
When we water cemetery grass, these substances drain off and infiltrate our groundwater. From there, they can enter drinking water. This impacts the health of the surrounding community.
Furthermore, watering ornamental grasses, such as those favored by cemeteries, wastes resources. It uses up potable water and creates challenges in communities impacted by drought. This will become more problematic as climate change progresses.
What Are the Environmental Benefits of Cremation?
Cremation solves many of the problems outlined above. It is a respectful way to prepare and honor your loved one without harming the environment.
Cremation takes up no space and utilizes very few resources. Still, it provides opportunities for meaningful rituals of remembrance.
If your loved one was eco-conscious, there is no better way to honor their memory than by choosing a burial practice that validates their wishes. Likewise, if you are planning ahead for the end of your life, you may wish to request cremation in your will.
We’ll describe the benefits of this earth-friendly practice below.
Cremation Saves Space
Humans may live longer in the twenty-first century, but we all pass eventually. Research suggests many cemeteries will reach capacity within the next decade. Soon, it will be rare for families to remain together after death.
Instead of hoping for proximity to lost loved ones, why not ensure it? Cremation requires no land except for the space an urn takes up in a place of honor.
You might also choose to scatter the ashes of a loved one. This also takes up no space and has no impact on environments or ecosystems. If you follow all EPA guidelines, you can honor loved ones in beautiful, meaningful places. Scattering ashes will never contribute to the climate or housing crisis.
Cremation Is Sustainable
When you choose cremation vs burial, you’re choosing to forego a casket. This eliminates the need to use natural resources like wood and iron. There are fewer manufacturing processes involved, eliminating environmental pollution.
Did you know that the popularity of eco-friendly urns is on the rise? These environmentally friendly vessels are entirely biodegradable. They allow you to hold a sustainable burial service in the location of your choice without contributing to wasteful practices.
Some eco-friendly urns even make the planet more beautiful. They contain tree or flower seeds. When you bury your loved one in a place of importance, a tree or small garden will spring up over time. This helps to beautify the planet and clean the air.
You may also choose an urn made of mycelium. These fibers function like mushrooms. They can help return nutrients to the earth efficiently and beneficially.
Cremation does produce some carbon dioxide. Sustainable urns are an excellent way to neutralize the impact of that process for years to come.
Cremation Is Chemical-Free
Cremation does not involve the use of common embalming chemicals such as formaldehyde. These carcinogens poison the soil, air, and water. We’re still unsure of their long-term effects on plants, animals, and humans.
In contrast, cremation is future-forward, with no lasting ecological effects.
Cremation Reduces the Need for Travel
When you choose to embalm and bury the body of a loved one, you must account for proximity. Friends and relatives may have to travel from out of town to attend services. If they wish to visit the loved one at the cemetery in the future, they must make the trip again.
Regardless of the modality, travel contributes to climate change through fuel use and carbon emissions. When your loved one’s memorial is not location-based, you can grieve in place and reduce your personal carbon footprint.
With cremation, it’s possible to split your loved ones’ cremains. You can create stunning, portable memorials that you can preserve or scatter anywhere.
Furthermore, multiple relatives can grieve in their own way. Some may display the cremains in a permanent urn, while others may scatter the ashes in a place of meaning.
Cremation has the power to make grief and remembrance a holistic experience.
Where to Find Eco-friendly Cremation Near Me
If you’re seeking access to cremation in Texas, consider Lone Star Cremation in Mansfield. Our practices are transparent, simple, and affordable. That’s how we became Dallas and Forthworth’s leading cremation service.
We realize that making arrangements can be an emotionally fraught process. That’s why we allow mourning families to make arrangements online. The process is easy and intuitive, and you can text us anytime if you need help or support.
We offer packages at several price points, making our services accessible to all families. We’ll go above and beyond to ensure a pleasant experience. Our compassionate associates will help you memorialize your loved one through obituaries, online arrangements, and more.
Furthermore, we’ll work with you to ensure our practices are as eco-friendly as possible. We can help you choose urns, keepsake jewelry, or alternative cremation containers.
It’s our pleasure to address your loved one’s final wish to honor our beautiful planet.
The Kindness of Cremation
We are living in turbulent times. As the world continues to change, we must become adaptable and change along with it. When you embrace the environmental benefits of cremation, you can combat climate change for years to come.
If you are preparing to make arrangements, we’d be happy to help support you. You can begin the process online. We wish you peace and love as you navigate this challenging transition.