You could drive almost 4,800 miles on the energy used to cremate one person.

This surprised me. I'd imagined cremation as green, since it doesn't compete with food production, or require mowing grass forever. Moreover it's standard body disposal for large road kill and sick farm animals. I remember one early storm killed a hundred thousand cattle, and the law had to make an exception of more than a week for their bodies to be disposed, because everyone was overwhelmed. Now I'm wondering what the carbon footprint was for their disposal.

The Environmental Impact of Funerals Illustrated (Infographic)

The resources used just in the US for traditional burial are mind-boggling - see the article's infographic. Over 800,ooo gal of formaldehyde buried per year, for example.

My will specifies donation to a medical school, with the remains disposed of in the cheapest way consistent with law. Now I wonder if that's unsustainable.

Even green burial takes away land for a burial plot? It's against the law to bury granny in your back yard with a little natural stone marker, isn't it? What is the most sustainable body disposal anyway? Suddenly cremation by burning a body on a modest pile of wood, in the open as in India, doesn't sound as bad. Not that we should throw our dead into rivers, of course.

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Replies to This Discussion

I think green burials reserve the land as park or sanctuary. I have chosen one in WA State which is a wildlife refuge. When the body decomposes, it fertilizes the plants and trees. They also take pets to be left out for vultures.

Green burials are still so new, I imagine it is a continuously changing situation and different everywhere. I googled on green burials Pennsylvania, there seem to be some options but I don't know.

There is also burial at sea. It takes some fuel energy to transport the body in an appropriate vessel, but once far enough out from shore, the body is interred at sea, basically as fish food. Might make one think twice about salmon or tuna, but the oceans are incredibly vast, and fish eat anything animal at sea anyway. I imagine that is environmentally beneficial? Other than the fuel issue. Maybe people could team up, several burials from one trip?

Burial at sea regulations - I doubt this is done much at all.

Burial in a wildlife refuge sounds perfect. Burial at sea sounds green to me. Thanks, Daniel.

This made me curious enough to check ky laws and what I found was a pleasant surprise. No embalming required, casket or container depends on the cemetery if you choose one. Best of all you may be buried on private property. Depending on the property location. It is very likely l could be planted in the woods beside the house here.
That's really interesting. It could make for an interesting CSI episode. Someone planting their lilac bushes turns up some bones - and who are they?
A nice lilac bush would be lovely.

I like the idea of a green burial. I see there is a place in WA near Goldndale, that has such burials. 

Ruth Anne's Grave


I think that's the place I Am thinking of.

My wife and I decided that we both want to be cremated, and have our ashes mixed together, and then our daughter will spread our ashes out on the property we are now living on.  This place has been our paradise for 25 years now, and it just can't get any bettter han what we have.

Is it wasteful?  I don't know.  I'm hoping the 42+ ornamental trees we've planted, and the 12-tree  orchard, plus the many large shrubs will help make up for it.


Don, that's very romantic.

Thanks, Dan.  We've been married 55 years this September, so we thought we might as well hang together a little longer. 




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