Green deathmatch: burial vs. cremation
by Josh Loposer
Jan 11th 2008 @ 2:00PM
Where will you go when you die? Most likely, you'll either take a dirt nap or float out the chimney of some crematorium. While green burials are fast becoming the hip new way to celebrate your commencement into the afterlife, you're still far more likely to take a more traditional approach. So, here are some things you should know about the big 2.
While it takes a lot of energy to cremate a body, roughly equivalent to driving 4,800 miles, you might be surprised by the level of carbon emissions released from burning your mortal remains -- in terms of pollution, you will burn cleaner than a Big Mac. Measured in unburnt particles per hour, a restaurant cooking burgers releases .46 lbs/hour, the cremation process only emits .08 lbs/hr. Not only that, but many crematoriums have even begun to use a series of filters to catch your toxins as they try to float away.
Burials, on the other hand have many environmental downsides -- partly stemming from the ton of work done on your body just to get you looking good for the big day. Embalming fluids that are used to preserve your stone-dead corpse, a somewhat wasteful practice, contain chemicals like formaldehyde, methanol, phenol -- which can seep out and eventually make their way into the groundwater. An estimated 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid are buried in the US each year.
Take that and add it to the coffin, yet another kinda unnecessary funeral accessory. While there are eco-friendly alternatives, traditional coffins are often built out of rare woods and are sometimes coated with toxic sealants or paints. It's like buying a small car, and immediately burying it -- all to protect your absolutely lifeless body from the elements -- what a racket.
No offense morticians.