clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

We need to change how we bury the dead

Why modern burials are awful for the environment.

For many people the word “funeral” is synonymous with caskets, flowers, cemeteries, and embalmed bodies. This “casket in the ground” method has been in use for generations, but it turns out it’s one of the worst ways you could dispose of a body.

It’s incredibly wasteful and requires an immense amount of resources for the casket, burial vault, and space in the cemetery. It’s also expensive. The average cost of a “modern burial” is between $10,000 to $12,000.

I spoke with Mark Harris, an environmental reporter who wrote a book on green burials called Grave Matters. According to him, there are many green options available, including natural burial where unembalmed bodies are put into the ground, often covered in nothing more than a sheet, and allowed to decompose naturally.

To find out more about why “modern burials" are terrible for the environment and to hear about experimental options like freezing a body with liquid nitrogen or having your ashes turned into a coral reef, check out the video above.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.