Death planning is a very personal topic, and one which most people find discomfiting. It’s hard enough to consider your own mortality as an abstract concept. It’s even harder to think in very specific—even graphic—terms about what will happen to your remains after you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.
A growing number of people are seeking alternatives to the traditional burial, which typically involves embalming, concrete vaults, and other processes and products that are not friendly to the environment. An article in Scientific American put some astonishing numbers to the resource costs of this type of burial:
According to National Geographic, American funerals are responsible each year for the felling of 30 million board feet of casket wood (some of which comes from tropical hardwoods), 90,000 tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of concrete for burial vaults, and 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid. Even cremation is an environmental horror story, with the incineration process emitting many a noxious substance, including dioxin, hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and climate-changing carbon dioxide.