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A study examining burial preferences over the past five years shows that some notable alternatives to standard coffin burial or cremation are becoming increasingly popular.

In 2024, 19% of around 6,000 people surveyed would prefer a “green burial” to a traditional one. A green burial offers a wide range of options, but this method avoids the embalming process and uses biodegradable coffins or shrouds.

As interest in environmentally conscious burial options increases, the concept of eco-eternity is gaining popularity. Choice Mutual has been studying the trend since 2020.

Washington’s preferences for alternative burial methods

#1 Tree capsule burials

  • The most popular option for Washington residents has been tree burial. The body is placed in a biodegradable tray, which is then buried in the ground. A tree is planted over the tray to provide food for the tree as the body decomposes.

#2 Green Burials

  • The second most popular option was green burial. This method does not involve an embalming process, but instead uses biodegradable coffins or shrouds. The body is allowed to decompose naturally and return to the earth without harming the environment.

#3 Human Composting

  • The third most popular alternative in Washington is natural organic reduction, or more simply, human composting. The body is placed in a special vessel filled with organic materials such as wood chips and straw. Over the course of several weeks, the body naturally decomposes and turns into nutrient-rich soil.

#4 Mushroom Suits

  • On fourth place Washington Residents like the idea of ​​mushroom suits. The body is wrapped in a biodegradable shroud or covert that has fungal spores embedded in it. The mushrooms break down the body and neutralize toxins released during the decomposition process.

#5 Memorial Reefs

  • Memorial Reefs were the fifth most popular option. The remains of the deceased are used to create artificial coral reefs using eco-friendly cement. These reefs provide marine habitat and can help restore endangered coral ecosystems.

#6 Space Burials

  • Space burials came in at number 6. This option involves sending ashes into orbit, but there may be more environmental concerns about space debris or the energy needed to reach the final resting place in space.

#7 Aquamation

  • Aquamation (alkaline hydrolysis) was the seventh most popular method among Washington residents seeking alternative burial methods. This process, known as water cremation, uses water and lye to decompose the human body. It is considered more environmentally friendly than traditional cremation because it uses less energy and releases fewer emissions.

Why do people consider these non-traditional burial options?

  • Forty-five percent said their biggest concern was the high cost of a traditional funeral, which typically ranges from $7,000 to $12,000.
  • 12% said that the environmental impact of traditional coffin burial or cremation raises significant concerns.
  • 11% cited space problems in the cemetery as a reason for considering an alternative burial method.

Many Washington residents who responded to the survey simply said they would consider a less expensive alternative burial method instead of the traditional one due to cost concerns.

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If I were to consider one of these options, it would probably be the Tree Pod burial. You are nurturing a growing tree that will become a living memorial and tribute to your time on earth. The true circle of life.

Let’s hope that the process that leads to the plot of the movie Soylent Green doesn’t end up on the list of alternative burial options. If you’re not familiar with the 1973 science fiction thriller, enjoy

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Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals

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