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Be Skeptical of Traditional Burials: Alternative Burial Methods

Flowers at burial

While many people still participate in traditional funerals and ceremonies, there are plenty of other choices to choose from. More and more people are turning to alternative burial options and methods. Whether you’re looking for something better for the environment or simply cheaper, there’s an option out there for you.

Why Should I Look Into Burial Alternatives?

The two big downsides to burials are cost and environmental impact. Unfortunately, the cost of burials continues to get more and more expensive each year. In 2014, the average cost of burial was around $7,200. Over just five years, that average had increased to over $7,600. These rising costs have pushed people into looking into alternatives, such as cremation.


A popular alternative to burial is cremation. For many people, cremation is even more popular. In one 2020 poll, 44% of responders said they would like to be cremated, while only 35% planned a traditional burial. This is very different from, say, the 1960s, where only around 4% of Americans chose to be burned.

There are a few reasons why cremation has become more popular. One reason is that it’s become more widely accepted by Christian and Jewish faiths. Another is because it’s more flexible. Scheduling a memorial service is easier with cremation than a traditional burial. Finally, many people believe cremation is cheaper and more eco-friendly than a burial. But is this true?

The Cost of Cremation

In most cases, cremations can cost less than a full traditional burial service. The average cost of a cremation is around $5,000. However, this only counts the actual service. If you add in a cremation casket and urn, that number creeps up to about $6,500. While this is still better than $7,500, it’s not as cheap as it seems at first.

Cremation’s Environmental Impact

Traditional burials usually involve processes that aren’t great for the environment. When a body is prepared with formaldehyde and other preservatives, those can leach into the surrounding dirt. While cremation doesn’t leak chemicals into the ground, it does release carbon dioxide.

CO2 is a big problem with cremation. With every service, about two gas tanks worth of pollutants are put into the atmosphere. If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly service, there are plenty of options out there.

Eco-Friendly Burial Options

Natural Burial

Natural or “green” burials are any services that are created to have a low environmental impact. These avoid chemicals and preservatives like formaldehyde. The grave is usually placed shallower in the ground. This encourages natural processes and decomposition. Conservation green burials commit to conserving the land used for burial.

Some services may plant trees above the body. Over time, the body gives its nutrients to nourish the growing tree for future generations. This is usually called a tree or tree pod burial.

Biodegradable Caskets and Urns

Another way to lessen the impact of a burial is with a biodegradable casket or urn. Using natural materials, such as wicker or bamboo, these materials are designed to break down. As these break down, they allow the remains to disperse nutrients into the surrounding ground. 


Resomation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis, is a kind of flameless cremation. This natural water cremation uses lye and heat to break down bodies quickly. Overall, it uses less energy and doesn’t have the same CO2 output as traditional cremation.

Donating Body to Science

When a body is donated, it can be used in a variety of ways. Some bodies are used as practice cadavers for medical students. They can also be used to research diseases or medical treatments. Even if the body is donated, many people still hold funeral services and memorials.

Burial at Sea and Water Burials

Burials at sea are common with navy soldiers or veterans. However, civilians can opt for what’s called a water burial. A water burial requires a permit, and you’ll need to follow EPA guidelines for the placement of remains.

Mushroom Burial

Even if a body isn’t preserved with formaldehyde, it still can contain dangerous pollutants. Mushroom burials use fungi to dispose of toxins safely. At the same time, the body is allowed to decompose naturally and eventually return to the soil.

Arranging for Your Alternative Burial

Though funeral arrangements are tough to plan for, it’s important to lay the groundwork. The more decisions you make now, the less stress you’ll be putting on your family. Make sure you’ve made arrangements for your will, burial arrangements, and insurance payout.

If you have questions about getting a life insurance policy started, try out an online comparison tool like Versured. They can get you started comparing plans from different providers, get you quotes, and compare policies. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Traditional burials and funerals can have more than a few downsides. Not only can they be pretty expensive, but they also have a negative effect on the environment. As more people become skeptical of traditional burials, alternatives have become more popular.
  • Over the years, cremation has become even more common than traditional burials. However, be careful of unexpected costs. While the cremation itself may be cheaper, you may end up paying additional money for a cremation casket or other funeral services. Make sure to check the prices of any add-ons that are offered with the service.
  • There are plenty of green alternatives to a normal burial. Check out biodegradable caskets and urns if you’re looking at a more traditional ceremony. Tree pods or conservation burials are great if you want to help out the environment. Donating your body to science is also a great way to make sure you have a positive impact. 
  • Plan for the future and make sure you have your funeral arrangements, insurance, and will settled and prepared. Having these settled helps prevent your family from having to make tough decisions at a painful time. Talk with your insurer about how to provide funeral services after your passing.
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