The Environmental Impact of Funerals Infographic

It is often said that death is a cycle whereupon the body, carbon and a person’s essence are returned to the earth. What this maxim forgets to include is 6 billion tons of concrete, 800,000 gallons of Formaldehyde, and enough wood in one year to build 4.6 million single family homes! In fact, you could drive almost 4,800 miles on the energy used to cremate one person! There is a lot of steel, wood, cement and fuel needed to accommodate the over 3.5 million deaths in North America each and every year. Delving further into the need for a green alternative, we were shocked to discover the Environmental Impact, and amount of resources and energy currently needed to support traditional funerals in North America.

As our society has become more environmentally conscious, we have begun to make fundamental changes in our lives. We eat less meat, we buy biodegradable products, we invest in energy efficient household appliances and we change our unhealthy habits. Today, the option of green burials, biodegradable caskets, and donations to offset one’s carbon emissions are slowly gaining traction. Why should your green consciousness end when your life does?

The Environmental Impact of Funerals Illustrated

Environmental Impact of Funerals infographic

The Environmental Impact of Funerals by Qeepr.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Green burials are one of the simplest ways of reducing one’s environmental impact post-mortem. Green burials are defined as a way of caring for the dead that minimizes the environmental impact while simultaneously protecting the health and welfare of workers and using proper land management techniques. Cemeteries can now be certified by The Green Burial Council.  Burial is no longer your only option; you can be cremated and turned into a treerecycled at the bottom of the ocean into a living reef or even turned into a gem! If you do choose cremation, new technologies in the industry are slowly resulting in reducing the use of chemicals as well as the rising popularity of flameless cremations, known as a resomations.

In order to reduce our own footprint, Qeepr donated 10 cents for every Facebook “share” of our post during the launch week of the infographic from Monday, March 24th to March 28th 2014 to The David Suzuki Foundation.

Posted by TalkDeath

  1. […] The Environmental Impact of Funerals Illustrated (Infographic) […]

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  2. I don’t have a quick way to debunk most of these numbers, but they seem wildly inflated.

    Let’s look at casket steel as a for-instance. There are maybe 60 million deaths each year on the entire planet. Even if every one of those people was buried in a steel casket and each of those caskets weighed 2000 lbs, we’d still only be around half the 115 million tons mentioned above. But most caskets don’t even weigh 200 lbs and most people world wide aren’t buried in steel, so how in the world do you come up with a number larger than 5 million?

    The real number is probably more like 3 million pounds and it would not surprise me to find that the number is even lower than that.

    I’m guessing that most of the other statistics here are significantly exaggerated as well.

    Which is not an argument against green burial. I understand the limited environmental impact. There is much to recommend the concept, but building the case on wildly inflated statistics will have a tendency to undermine the credibility of the message.

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    1. Hello BT, we wanted to respond to some of your concerns regarding our infographic. Our research has indicated that the estimated number of cemeteries in the United States is actually 100,000-115,000. Our math accounts for an average of 10 acres for each of the 100,000 cemeteries. This means that we may be grossly underestimating as some cemeteries are as large as 800 acres!

      As for the Casket steel, please feel free to check our references or do a Google search. Our numbers are not based on a yearly average. Rather they are the total estimated amount in the ground. All of our resources provide almost the exact same numbers, and have been validated by this documentary: http://www.brownedocs.com/the-green-burial-movement/ which was overseen by the president of the Green Burial Council.

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  3. […] to drive halfway to the sun each year. Qeepr recently launched a new infographic that shows the environmental impact of funerals – check it out after the […]

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  4. […] to drive halfway to the sun each year. Qeepr recently launched a new infographic that shows the environmental impact of funerals – check it out after the […]

    Reply

  5. […] to drive halfway to the sun each year. Qeepr recently launched a new infographic that shows the environmental impact of funerals – check it out after the […]

    Reply

  6. […] Qeepr will be donating 10 cents for every Facebook “share” of this post during through to March 28th at 5pm EST to The David Suzuki Foundation. Share it HERE: http://www.facebook.com/qeeprofficial http://www.talkdeath.com/environmental-impact-of-funerals/ […]

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  7. Why embalm at all? It’s not necessary and the fluids removed for the body have to go somewhere.

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    1. I agree! If I go green, I’m going all the way. I hope to be buried as naturally as possible. 😀

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      1. Right on with the zero embalming why add it to the mix who wants to poison our clothes for the grave robbers anyway ha ha

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  8. Please explain more on cremation. This is my preferred method. Why does it produce dioxin? (for example) When compared to traditional methods of burial it seems to me that cremation is better. Ashes to Ashes, and all that. Ashes fertilize the soil. Do they not? Isn’t there a balance in cremation? The emissions equal out to the benefits. It’s not clear to me what the alternatives are. Feeding vultures my body? Contaminating the soil with my body and that of others? I’m not getting the whole understanding here. Thanks in advance, for clarification.

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    1. Hello! Cremation is a still a good option and is more environmentally friendly than traditional burials. However, when bodies are cremated, emissions such as green house gas carbon dioxids, pollutants, carcinogens and carbon monoxide are released. Mercury, often from dental fillings, is also released. The process of cremation and the electricity and fuel needed also takes up a lot of resources. However the overall cost to the environment is not all that great with cremation and there are many alternatives available today. You can be freeze-dried, resomated or work with a crematorium that follows certain green practices.

      Nothing is perfect, it is all about reducing your impact as much as possible!

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  9. Are most caskets not lowered into the ground inside a big metal box on pulleys, these days? This creates a double casket system which seems so counter intuitive in regards to ‘returning to the earth’ I assume this creates the staggering statistic.

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    1. I can only speak to Jewish funerals, but those pulleys are made of rope and are removed once the casket has been put into the ground. So it is dirt and whatever the casket is made of, nothing else.

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  10. […] to drive halfway to the sun each year. Qeepr recently launched a new infographic that shows the environmental impact of funerals – check it out after the […]

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  11. […] ambiental causado pelas cerimónias fúnebres dos seres humanos. Estes números deram origem a uma infografia que permite ilustrar melhor o […]

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  12. […] Want to know more about the Environmental Impact of Funerals? […]

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  13. […] decision making out of your family's hands. People choose alternatives for many reasons including environmental and personal and there are many resources available to help you choose what is best for […]

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  14. […] are becoming popular because traditional cremations, with embalming fluid and smoke, are not as environmentally friendly as you would […]

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  15. […] amount of casket wood alone is equivalent to about 4 million acres of forest and could build about 4.5 million […]

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  16. […] footprint of traditional cremation, a method which uses a lot of energy and produces a lot of carbon emissions. According to industry studies, one cremation uses 92 cubic meters of natural gas and 29 […]

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  17. […] rites funéraires – enterrement ou crémation – il est intéressant de regarder cette infographique même si elle concerne les États […]

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  18. […] and alternative funeral practices are flourishing all over the world. Many of our mainstream funerary practices have potentially harmful impacts on the environment, from releasing C02 and mercury into the air, to embalming fluid seeping into our water supply. […]

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  19. […] bodies are supposed to return to the earth 'pure'. Embalming is also environmentally costly. As this infographic shows, over 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde are buried in the ground each year, enough to fill 1.2 […]

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  20. […] forward a few years, a successful green burial campaign, a YouTube Webseries, many travel adventures, and some pretty cool videos, the time […]

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  21. […] and accountability for their actions. If we think about the current state of the environment, this point definitely strikes a chord. If we expect to live longer, people may be more likely to […]

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  22. […] method also consumes a great deal of natural resources. Each year, we bury800,000 gallons of formaldehyde-based embalming fluid, 115 million tons of steel, 2.3 billion tons […]

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