A Green Burial skips the embalming process and uses biodegradable caskets or shrouds.

Since time immemorial, contemplating one’s own funeral has been an inherently awkward yet unavoidable aspect of life. Traditionally, the decision seemed straightforward: burial or cremation. But as our society’s values shift, so too do the ways we consider for our post-mortem journey.

The trend towards environmentally conscious funeral options is on the rise as awareness spreads. In response to this shift, Choice Mutual conducted a survey among 6,000 people to gauge preferences for non-traditional burial methods. The findings were quite revealing, highlighting a growing interest in eco-friendly funeral alternatives.

#1 Green Burials

The most popular option among New Yorkers was Green Burials. This method skips the embalming process and uses biodegradable caskets or shrouds. The aim is to allow the body to decompose naturally and return to the earth without harming the environment.

#2 Tree Pod Burials

A surprising choice emerged as the 2nd most popular for Empire State residents: Tree Pod Burials. 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

#3 Human Composting

In third place came Natural Organic Reduction (Human Composting). This method involves placing the body 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 Memorial Reefs

Memorial Reefs was the 4th most popular pick. This involves creating artificial coral reefs using remains mixed into an environmentally safe cement. These reefs provide habitats for marine life and help restore endangered coral ecosystems. An alternative approach is to create a reef ball from the cremated remains

#5 Mushroom Suits

In fifth place for New York residents was Mushroom Suits. This involves a biodegradable burial suit or shroud embedded with mushroom spores. The mushrooms decompose the body and neutralize toxins that are released during decomposition.

#6 Aquamation

Aquamation (Alkaline Hydrolysis) was the 6th most sought after method. Also known as water cremation, this process uses water and lye to break down the body. It’s more eco-friendly than traditional cremation since it uses less energy and releases fewer emissions.

#7 Space Burials

Space Burials, which came in 7th place, is an avant-garde choice that involves sending ashes into orbit, didn’t place as the top pick, likely due to environmental concerns about space debris

Choice Mutual has created an infographic with the survey’s findings.

Choice Mutual decided to delve deeper into people’s options about alternative burial methods.

With personal debt in America soaring, 45% cite the high costs associated with traditional funerals — typically between $7,000 and $12,000 — as the major concern. These expenses often cover a range of services, including casket purchase, service fees, burial vault, and costs for the gravesite and its preparation, not to mention headstones and funeral ceremonies.

Environmental impact is another significant concern, with 12% of those surveyed prioritizing it, closely followed by the issue of cemetery space, which concerns 11% of respondents. 

New Yorkers were queried about their likelihood of choosing a cost-saving alternative burial method over traditional ones, with many indicating a propensity to switch to reduce expenses.

Discussions about funeral plans, especially with elder family members, remain a sensitive subject, with 39% feeling uneasy about it. Yet, a striking 72% would back a relative’s decision to choose an alternative method, although 9% might dissuade them and 19% would remain neutral.

Regarding funeral funding, life insurance is expected to cover the costs for 39% of respondents. Personal savings are the anticipated source for 29%, while 11% may rely on family contributions. A small fraction, 3%, even consider crowdfunding as an option.

In a notable reflection of celebrity influence, nearly one-third of New Yorkers polled concede that endorsement by a celebrity could sway their decision towards an alternative burial, underscoring the power of social media promotion, a tactic more commonly seen in industries far removed from funeral services.

We’re observing a significant shift in end-of-life preferences as people seek to leave a lasting, positive impact on the planet”, says Anthony Martin from Choice Mutual. “It’s about connecting with the earth and fulfilling a legacy that honors both environmental values and personal beliefs. These eco-friendly options offer a way to say farewell that aligns with the principles people lived by, ensuring that their final footprint is as green and meaningful as the life they led.”


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