Sooner or later, the whole body, including the gallons of toxic, carcinogenic embalming fluid, could end up in the water table where they’re buried.
In North America alone, traditional burial accounts for over 30 million feet of wood and 90,000 tons of steel for coffins. Much of this wood is highly valuable and comes from tropical hardwoods, including mahogany. The amount of steel used in caskets and vaults in North America yearly is enormous – each year American’s use enough steel in burials to remake the Golden Gate Bridge. Enough concrete is used in burial vaults to build a highway between San Francisco and Portland. Not to mention, the manufacturing and transport of caskets requires vast amounts of energy.
Casket and vault burials also create significant environmental impact. The process of preservation emits toxic chemicals into the air and soil and thousands of acres of land are cleared and used for traditional tombstones each year.
The challenge isn’t getting any easier. Every year, tens of millions of the 7.4 billion people on Earth will die. A portion of those will be cremated, but millions will be buried in the ground, forever using pounds of steel, wood and toxic embalming fluid. As the population on Earth grows, so too does the number buried just below the surface, rendering millions acres of soil useless for crops, housing, or natural growth.
On top of the environmental concerns, a traditional funeral and burial can cost upwards of $10,000, which barely gets you the basics such as embalming, a casket, ceremony, and burial. Other elements, often included in the burial tradition are extra costs; flowers, limos, obituaries, vaults and other trappings. The financial burden is exacting, and considering over 80% of Americans are already in debt, sudden burial costs could easily cause many Americans to fall into bankruptcy.