Tag Archives: Cremation

Woman choosing urn for husband's cremation

Which is Greener, Cremation or Burial?

Woman choosing urn for husband's cremationPeople rarely choose cremation or burial due to environmental considerations, but those who have tried to live ethically during their lives may want to consider the ecological impact of these methods before making a choice.

Cremation is by far the most popular type of funeral these days, with 70.8% of Brits wishing to be cremated. The majority will have made the choice based on what they are most comfortable with or on their cultural or financial circumstances. Fewer people are religious now and being buried in a churchyard may not be that important to them. Cremations are also cheaper. Since funerals can cost thousands of pounds, more people are attracted by its affordability.

For people who are concerned about the environment, cremation is not necessarily the most eco-friendly choice.

Why Cremation Harms the Planet

Cremation causes more ‘greenhouse’ gas emissions and uses more energy than burial. The person in charge of the cremation will need to burn the body at temperatures up to 1150°C for 75 minutes to reduce the body to ash. This uses about the same amount of gas and electricity as a single person uses in a month, just for one cremation.

The gases it releases contribute to global warming and affect the air quality. In addition, if the deceased had any mercury amalgam fillings put in before they died, mercury vapours will be released into the atmosphere during the cremation. About 16% of the UK’s total mercury pollution comes from dental fillings that are burned during cremation.

Why a Burial is Better

Golden Leaves Funeral Plans notes that green funeral services offer eco-friendly burials in woodland settings. Burial can be ‘greener’ than cremation. Just like composting, the body eventually breaks down, returning to the soil with less energy and fewer harmful emissions. If embalming was done, then embalming fluids such as formaldehyde can seep into the soil and pollute the grounds and rivers. However, it is possible to choose burial without embalming if there is no viewing required.

These factors make burial the more ethical option when choosing a funeral. Be smart when making your choice; consider its impact on the environment and the next generations.