A study looking at burial preferences in the last five years shows shows some remarkable alternatives to the standard coffin burial or cremation are gaining popularity

In 2024, 19% of some 6,000 people surveyed would choose a ‘Green Burial’ over a traditional one. A Green Burial covers a broad array of options but the method avoids the embalming process and involves the use of biodegradable caskets or shrouds.

Since there is more interest in environmentally conscious funeral options the concept of Eco-Eternity is gaining popularity.  Choice Mutual has looked at the trend dating back to 2020.

Washingtonian's Preferences in Alternative Burial Methods

#1 Tree Pod Burials

  • The most popular option for Washington residents was the Tree Pod Burial. The body is placed in a biodegradable pod that is then buried in the ground. A tree is planted above the pod, and as the body decomposes, it nourishes the tree.

#2 Green Burials

  • The second most popular option was Green Burials. This method does not use  the embalming process and instead, uses biodegradable caskets or shrouds. The  body is allowed to decompose naturally and return to the earth without harming the environment.

#3 Human Composting

  • In third most popular alternative in Washington is Natural Organic Reduction or, more simply, Human Composting.  The body is placed in a special vessel with organic materials like wood chips and straw. Over several weeks, the body decomposes naturally, turning into nutrient-rich soil.

#4 Mushroom Suits

  • In fourth place, Washington residents like the idea of Mushroom Suits. The body is wrapped in a biodegradable burial suit or shroud embedded with mushroom spores. The mushrooms decompose the body and neutralize toxins that are released during the process of decomposition.

#5 Memorial Reefs

  • Memorial Reefs came in as the 5th most popular option. The decedent's  remains are used to create artificial coral reefs using an environmentally safe cement. These reefs provide marine habitat and can help restore endangered coral ecosystems.

#6 Space Burials

  • Space Burials came in at 6th place.  This choice involves sending ashes into orbit, but may raise even more environmental concerns about space debris or the energy necessary to reach the final resting place in space..

#7 Aquamation

  • Aquamation (Alkaline Hydrolysis) was the 7th most sought after method by Washington residents seeking alternative burials. This process called Water cremation, uses water and lye to break down the human body. It's considered more eco-friendly than traditional cremation since it uses less energy and releases fewer emissions.

Why Are People Considering These Non-Traditional Funeral Options?

  • 45% said their major concern was the high costs of traditional funerals, typically between $7,000 and $12,000.
  • 12% said the impact on the environment of a tradition coffin burial or cremation is a significant concern.
  • 11% raised concerns about cemetery space as a reason to consider an alternative burial method.

Many Washingtonians responding to the survey simply said they were considering a cost-saving alternative burial method over traditional ones to reduce expenses.

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If I were considering any of these options, it would likely be the Tree Pod burial.  You end up nourishing a growing tree which becomes a living memorial and tribute to your time on earth.  Very circle of life.

Let's hope the process that results in the plot line of the film Soylent Green doesn't make the list of alternative funeral options.  If you are not familiar with the 1973 Sci-fi thriller, enjoy

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Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals


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