Will funeral homes accept Nature’s caskets?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires funeral homes to accept outside caskets without charging additional fees. Please notify your funeral home that you will be using a separately purchased casket.

Can caskets be ordered for future need?
Yes, although they will have to be stored at your residence or storage unit.

Does embalming preserve a body indefinitely?
No, embalming is generally for cosmetic purposes only immediately following death.

Does embalming protect the living against disease?
No, in general dead bodies are less contagious than living bodies.

Is embalming bad for the environment?
Yes, embalming involves replacing bodily fluids with toxic preservatives like formaldehyde. This eventually leaches into the ground.

Do sealed caskets preserve remains?
No, there is no scientific evidence that sealed caskets preserve remains.

What are sealed caskets?
Sealed caskets purport to protect a body against decay, but actually tend to seal anaerobic bacteria into a casket, thus changing the nature of how the body biodegrades. No caskets, vaults, or embalming prevent bodies from eventually biodegrading.

What is green burial?
Green burial involves burial without embalming, in a container or shroud that is biodegradable and doesn’t include toxic materials. Green burial uses less energy and produces less waste than conventional burial. In a sense, green burial is “traditional” burial, as this is how most burials were conducted up until the late 19th century. Conservation burial goes a step further and ensures that the burial grounds are preserved or restored to the natural ecological state.

What is the CO2 footprint of conventional burial, cremation, and green burial?
CO2 emissions can vary widely depending on a number of factors. One study found that a conventional burial, including casket and vault manufacturing, and upkeep of the cemetery grounds, releases about 390 pounds of CO2. In the same study, a typical cremation released about 350 pounds of CO2. Green burial in a simple wood casket can actually sequester carbon, resulting in a negative carbon footprint.

What are some other environmental impacts of conventional burial and cremation?
Conventional burial utilizes resources: each year about 45 million board feet of lumber (mostly oak, maple, and cherry), tens of thousands of tons of steel and other metals, over a million tons of concrete, water for upkeep, and various other plastics, fabrics, coatings, chemicals, and even cut flowers. Conventional burial consumes about 2 square miles of land each year. Conventional burial creates toxic waste: hundreds of thousands of gallons of carcinogenic formalin are buried each year with embalmed bodies, casket finishes produce some of the most hazardous waste (methyls, xylenes), and numerous pesticides are used for cemetery maintenance.Cremation utilizes fossil fuels – the equivalent of driving a car over 100 miles. About 82% of cremations use cardboard boxes, and a smaller percentage use wood (or even metal) caskets. Cremation may also release mercury, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, dioxins, furans, and other pollutants – though the amount emitted varies depending on the pollution controls in individual crematories. And, of course, if the remains are buried in a conventional cemetery, all the environmental costs of conventional burial must be accounted for.

What is a home funeral?
Home funerals were the norm in the U.S. until the late 19th century. Federal law stipulates that families may direct their own funerals. For more information, visit the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

What is home burial?
Home burial involves burying a body on one’s private land. This is prohibited in most urban and suburban settings, but may be allowed on rural private land. Contact your city/county clerk for information.

What is a vault?
Many cemeteries require that the casket be placed within a vault. The vault keeps the ground from sinking when the casket decays, making maintenance of the cemetery easier. Most vaults contain around 1.6 tons of concrete.

How expensive is the average funeral?
The average funeral plus burial in the U.S. is about $10,000. The average funeral costs $6500. The average cost of cremation plus container (not including burial) is $2000.  The average cost of a casket is $2200.
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