In the U.S. each year we bury 20m ft of hardwood, 1.6m tons of concrete and 4.3m gallons of embalming fluid. 
An average cremation takes 28 gallons of fuel. 
Also, just my own opinion based on observation, why do cemeteries get all the best real estate?? Dead people can't enjoy that view.
An average American has a carbon footprint of about 20 tons per year, so the ~540 pounds emitted from cremation (stat from that article) is a drop in the bucket.
Not to be flip about carbon use, but this is people's final wishes we're talking about. Death is a big deal.
It also isn't strictly about the dead, but rather about the living who get peace of mind from knowing that their wishes will be respected upon their death.
Not to mention the mental wellbeing of their friends and family.
I have much more respect for some eastern religions like Zoroastrians or some Buddhists in Tibet/high Nepal who chop the bodies of their close ones and leave it to predators. That's a true expression of proper belief in their religions.
People can't stand sight of their close one decomposing (apart from some remote tribes who have mummies/skulls of ancestors around the house), some would even be properly traumatized, but yet there is some obscure need to have the same biological matter confined somewhere where they can come and feel 'connected' again. Wouldn't a photo/3D model/hologram of the person achieve the same?
I mean, I wouldn't care less if somebody brings some flowers to my grave or lights candles. Just remember me when convenient, some good experiences and I will be glad
I think you have to decide on rational or religion. Religion is based on beliefs, not on rationality (whether they happen to match up or not)
For example eastern orthodox church has very specific rules about preserving the body and still (I think?) doesn't allow cremation.
> apart from some remote tribes
You may want to check on the bone washing tradition in Latin America. That's far from "remote tribes".
That's not a whole lot. The fuel cost of everyone flying or driving out to the funeral probably dwarfs it.
Of course, we could make cremation more efficient if we didn't want to generate ashes for people to take home, but that's a pretty cheap cost for the emotional value.
There was a huge amount of consolidation going on as mostly family funeral parlors were being bought up by a few scaled players.
There is a huge amount of money tied up in funerals. Looking at the generational switchover, with boomers presumedly wanting traditional burials, grave sites and granite headstones—-not yet at its peak.
I wonder if the funeral industry will tip around the same time some have suggested the housing market will.
(take with a grain of salt, my only source is 10 episodes of Six Feet Under)
My last memory of grandma was us all together as a family at my aunt's house on Christmas day, her sitting there in an armchair beaming at how proud she was of her family and giving out hugs and kisses to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She died a few weeks afterwards of heart failure.
It's one of my fondest memories and I'm sure she'd rather be remembered that way than as a cold, lifeless body on a stainless steel slab.
> My last memory of grandma was us all together as a family at my aunt's house on Christmas day, her sitting there in an armchair beaming at how proud she was of her family and giving out hugs and kisses to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She died a few weeks afterwards of heart failure.
> It's one of my fondest memories and I'm sure she'd rather be remembered that way than as a cold, lifeless body on a stainless steel slab.
For some, the memories are not enough, and to touch the skin of a loved one one last time (even if there is no warmth behind it) before their body if forever removed from the world, is a special moment.
Also, to talk about the parents point on prime real estate, i’m not sure what current rates in other states for a plot but where i’m at, you’re looking at >$1,500/plot for one casket.
Bodies don't need to be viewed just as a sunset does not need to be admired. But people choose to do both activities all the same.
Says who? Do you have information about the grieving process being easier if you don't view?
I never claimed that - you've imagined that - so why would I have information on it?
It's nice to have spaces set aside for quiet contemplation on death and the passage of time
Old cemeteries are de facto parks in cities that grow up around them. They're quite nice and a decent use of land in areas that don't have the sort of pressing housing needs that SFBA has.
It's quite a weird feeling, looking at those gravestones (sometimes quite beautiful and impressive, to be honest), and knowing that, for almost all of them, no one is alive anymore that could have actually known them.
Is it not considered offensive to jog in a cemetery?
The Wikipedia article itself mentions jogging as one of the uses, so I'm not making it up (at the same time it mentions "with due respect", and personally I also don't think jogging is "disrespectful"): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alter_Nordfriedhof_(Munich)#Pr...
As other comments mention, Colma was the place where many of those cemeteries were moved to.
Have you not seen what happens when you build on top of burial grounds?
Unfortunately, many of these practices change awfully slowly and arguing with people over their rites and traditions is a pointless (and somewhat insensitive) exercise.
You'll find on the African continent that graveyards are ridiculously large and elaborate (esp. in Southern Africa). My only guess is that these things improve with better education and in turn, that whole process is inevitably slow.
I can't say much for the US, but certainly it has the resources to be more innovative.
Also, many towns and cities have grown, so what used to be a small hill outside of town is now, unsurprisingly, prime real estate.
People who want to farm their land or build structures to conduct commerce.
Sure, maybe a bunch of cemetaries ain't the most efficient use of space, but it's certainly a really cool use of space. I live in close proximity to it, and appreciate it as part of the not-quite-green-belt between Daly City and South San Francisco.
And for those that like videos, that link includes a Tom Scott YouTube video as well.
At the end of this March I was in Stockholm. One of the most unusual "highlights" (I consciously choose to visit this place for its nature) of the trip was the breathtaking woodland cemetery called Skogskyrkogården, located just outside the city.
I spent 3 hours of walking and reading there. It's one of the most beautiful and serene nature places I've ever been to. When you enter, there are no graves in sight — a sign that nature is the central focus, not the graves. These are mainly located in the depths of the woodland.
It's a UNESCO World Heritage site; this was their justification:
Outstanding Universal Value:
Skogskyrkogården, located south of central Stockholm, Sweden, is an outstanding early 20th century cemetery. Its design blends vegetation and architectural elements, taking advantage of irregularities in the site to create a landscape that is finely adapted to its function. [...] Asplund and Lewerentz’s cemetery design evokes a more primitive imagery. The intervention of footpaths, meandering freely through the woodland, is minimal. Graves are laid out without excessive alignment or regimentation within the forest. Asplund and Lewerentz’s sources were not “high” architecture or landscape design but rather ancient and medieval Nordic burial archetypes.
Skogskyrkogården is an outstanding example of the successful application of the 20th-century concept of architecture wholly integrated into its environment: the chapels and other buildings there would lose much of their meaning if isolated from the landscape for which they were conceived. The Woodland Chapel is intimately integrated into its setting, whilst the impact of the later group of chapels is heightened by the use of their landscape as a background. In both cases, the architecture has a quality of austerity that is appropriate to its function and does not compete with the landscape. The success with which Asplund and Lewerentz integrated natural with artistic and architectural values gives this cemetery an outstanding independent cultural value. Considered to be of the highest artistic quality, Skogskyrkogården has had a profound influence on cemetery design in many countries of the world.
In my anecdotal experience, most modern/currently operating cemeteries aren't really situated in the best real estate. But most landscaping maintenance and beautification practices do tend to make them appear more inviting/relaxing/beautiful than just the land itself would seem to be on its own. In that sense, they're not all that different from parks; the name "memorial park" (cemeteries with bronze or sometimes stone markers flush to the ground) and the ideas behind the philosophy pretty explicitly evoke that image.
Older, historical cemeteries are a different matter altogether. As another commenter pointed out, some of them were originally located outside the urban core but still close enough for relatively easy access to transportation. Church cemeteries were often located immediately outside the church. Some were never really envisioned to amount to anything, but expanded slowly over time. The same passage of time turned their locations into valuable, prime real estate. And the same landscaping and greenery that most cemeteries try to cultivate, along with the sheer weight of history on their grounds, can turn them into wonderful places for the community to visit. Many of the monuments and private mausoleums are stunning pieces of architecture and workmanship, and the dark Quincy granite that you'll often find is instantly recognizable. Even more so than their natural beauty, these places tell a part of our history, good and bad. Not every cemetery was preserved like that, of course; others are forgotten entirely and re-discovered during construction projects. Or they can be damaged by natural disasters, such as when a thousand caskets floated away after Hurricane Katrina and had to be tracked down and reinterred.
Sometimes, that land is too appealing or valuable, which can lead to cemeteries being moved to another location in their entirely. It's such a royal pain in the ass, though, it's very rare nowadays unless there's no alternative such as with major infrastructure projects and the like, with many states having laws that protect cemeteries from arbitrary eminent domain and redevelopment, and requiring court orders for each individual grave, efforts to track down next of kin, etc. My grandfather's company was hired to help move a cemetery for a University of Pittsburgh stadium back in the late 50s or early 60s, if I recall correctly. Years earlier, it was much more common to move cemeteries and reinter the remains as cities grew. Sometimes happening more than once, which can give genealogists fits at times.
As for the environmental impact, you can look into alkaline hydrolysis as a cremation alternative, at least in the 14 states it's currently legal in. It's much more environmentally friendly (no mercury pollution, for example), save for the wastewater it produces (around 300 gallons per body).
The vast majority of cultures have rites for taking care of the dead in a tidy manner. This is partly out of respect and partly for cleanliness purposes. Corpses that aren’t embalmed or cremated are hotbeds for disease. Having them naturally degrade seems like a great way for new human-specific evolutions in disease to grow and spread.
Not really. Corpses don't really gain the ability to transmit diseases if the disease wasn't already there. For those with infectious diseases that are of concern for human to human transmission, many locations have laws already in place. In Alberta, my province, we refer to these as Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 diseases and have public health law regarding handling of the deceased that fall into these categories .
1 - http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Regs/2008_135.pdf
You're really going to have to provide a citation for that.
On our way to choosing a natural eco-friendly burial, we looked at quite a few locations. There was one common feature - none allowed embalming. Nor is there any legal requirement for embalming, and very few (regular) burial grounds require it. It's a convenience for undertakers (and a nice way to bump the price implying it's an expected procedure).
It seems very unlikely that would be the case if your assertion were true.
I don't however know if the undertaker lobby has since managed to get embalmment mandatory / carteling with the graveyards
And this is the reason that composting never took hold in antiquity. For the ancients, who may not have had as much scientific knowledge, burial and cremation could be done improperly, and still provide a sanitary means of disposal of the deceased. You try to compost the deceased in an ancient society lacking the proper techniques, facilities, and medical care, and I'd imagine you'd just be bringing a whole world of problems down on your village or town.
I rather doubt that is they reason why in the past we didn't decide to throw our dead in what is essentially a rubbish heap...
Per the FTC, embalming is not required for burial in any state. A lot of cemeteries require it, but Google "green burial" for more info on places that don't.
According to , taking a 40yr old male, the body would be 180cm x 25cm x 70cm (805, 236, 506+378 extrapolated). You'd probably want at least 2.5cm of epoxy border giving you 185cm x 30cm x 75cm or 0.42m^3. Assuming the body takes up about 0.067m^3, you're left with 0.35m^3 or 21350in^3.  says multiply that by 0.0163 to get 350 litres which then translates to kg of resin. Using GlassCast 50, at 32kg for £450 inc vat, you'd be looking at ~£4900.
(you could also just paint over a few thin layers instead but it wouldn't look as impressive.)
(also you'd need to dry the body out first because the resin would react badly with the moisture.)
But I tend to agree that composting is a bit... strange.
The size of the plot and headstone. The common use of heavyweight steel for coffins that can delay decomposition even longer. Concrete grave linings. Cremation is no better from an impact perspective.
I think they may be aiming for corpses that hang around as long as ancient Egypt achieved. :)
Ever been to cemeteries in Paris? Giant monuments, incredibly ornate graves.. The US is far more modest by comparison.
In general, humanity has buried and burned people with expensive objects to show reverence or recognize status. The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, etc. It's kind of a tradition to waste a bunch of money on the dead!
Composting provides extra oxygen and whatever other steps are necessary to accelerate the decomposition process.
A buried body can last many years, especially if it’s several feet into the clay layer.
Try it. Bury a cat or dog six feet under and come back in five years. If it’s common clay, a large percentage will still be there.
And in some cases (e.g. peat) "many" can end up being "hundreds" or even "thousands".
I imagine it will be at least that long, and likely much longer, until the land used for cemeteries is repurposed.
Say that to 1.7 billion Muslims who bury their dead using neither.
Who am I to feel so important that I should take up space in perpetuity?
After a few generations, document the gravestones and get rid of them and make room for a park you can run around in.
Many of the bodies wound up in Colma ... which now has 17 cemeteries, 73% of the city's land.
It has little to do with grieving or even remembrance. In my case it's mostly curiosity. In a way it's akin to visiting a museum of you. And in the future people will be able to do this. This gets even more interesting once you consider that at some point, perhaps not far from now, there is an extremely high chance that your descendants will reside on another planet. I see no reason to believe that these descendants would have any less curiosity about their heritage.
That playground will eventually give way to some apartment complex, road, or place to buy crap and nobody will ever know or care that it was there. But the people of today are what will make up the people of thousands of years from now. And that lingering connection and curiosity of the past is something that I expect will probably remain with our species (and even the species we diverge onto in the future) indefinitely.
Have you had a genealogical DNA test done and used 23andme or ancestry.com to try and connect to distant relatives? I realize many folks have reasonable privacy concerns about DNA testing, but it's highly likely you'll be able to connect to relatives this way and perhaps trace your genealogy out even further.
0. Although it's somewhat out of your hands if you have any relatives undergoing genealogical DNA testing.
If I should die before I wake,
All my bone and sinew take
Put me in the compost pile
To decompose me for a while.
Worms, water, sun will have their way,
Returning me to common clay
All that I am will feed the trees
And little fishes in the seas.
Edit: Ok, I better clarify, I was thinking of the risk of infectious diseases and other toxins to the people still alive.
That, combined with the desire but not the means to explain things they didn't understand, is religion in a nutshell.
As long as we actually understand the underlying reasons why these practices were forbidden, and have addressed them, then it's okay to eat pork.
These issues have been studied, and composting is a pretty safe form of disposal as long as it's done properly.
For everything else that lives and dies on this planet, it's sort of the natural order of things.
The living are there 1% of the time. The dead are there 100%. Put the cemetery in a place that isn't prime real estate because of this was my opinion.
We need the practical solutions, not the ritual.
It’s an interesting subject with a mix of practical, religious, and economic incentives resulting in a huge range of different outcomes in even closely related cultures.
If composting isn't a good option then there's natural funerals where unembalmed people are buried in lightweight and compostable caskets and have trees planted over their grave.
Is it legal to feed a human corpse to pigs? Maybe it should be. It would seem to be eco-friendly.
I don't know the chemical names offhand, but suffice to say the decomposition process has plenty of nasty byproducts, not to mention whatever might have been in the intestinal tract (eating feces == bad).
On a slightly more serious note... there are plenty of carrion eating animals. Many of which are capable of eating humans. I'm sure it's not that toxic.
iirc the carrion-eating animals have evolved particular mechanisms such that eating dead flesh doesn't harm them; they can eat a lot of stuff that would kill us. What is deadly toxic for a human may be nontoxic for a vulture or cockroach.
I guess that's more passive though, because you're letting a human decompose like any animal, versus active industrial composting like we do we paper towels and food waste.
Parsi burials in "Tower of silence"
I keep telling people that this is what I want (and I'm serious) but sadly it doesn't appear to be practical in my part of the world.
Frankly, Sinclair owned stations should be required to have common branding if they are going to share the exact same website design, news content and management, anything less is deceiving the public.
I live in Seattle and have watched that hackjob of a video, they've fenced the underside of many bridges that homeless used to camp under, most recently the West Seattle and Ballard bridges have been fenced.
Your obviously disgruntled, move somewhere else!
Edit: I was being serious. I would choose a sky burial if given the option. Feeding scavenger birds is a natural and aesthetically satisfying method of corpse disposal.
We view people and animals as different. We have a long tradition of viewing people as different. We have pushed those limits somewhat with organ donation, but generally speaking, we don't break people down for spare parts. Most religions and corresponding cultures view people as made by God and having a small element of the diving. This is the reason people are considered better than animals, and the reason there are different requirements for veterinary vs human medicine. Same reason we eat animals without issue.
Maybe you disagree; we are each free to our respective opinions. But most people don't view humans as "just another kind of animal".
I guess this legislation is a way to rationally erode the obsolete emotional reasons for treating the human body as something special.
This legislation doesn't force anyone to be composted after their death. It gives a families and loved ones a new option, without taking away any options.
As such we haven't taken away anyone's options to treat humans specially, or however they wanted to be treated.
As long as it's safe and doesn't introduce significant negative externalities, I fail to see why not granting more choices would be a bad idea.
Dying humans are usually sick, old, or otherwise damaged, and are not slaughtered but die naturally, so e.g. they’re not bled out properly.
So even if it wasn’t dangerous due to diseases, it wouldn’t be palatable unless heavily processed down to the molecular level. At that point you basically get bonemeal, the same stuff we make from animal carcasses, and used as a fertilizer or food supplement for livestock.
Also, why not slaughter humans for food when they are younger and better eating? Why do we treat humans any different than any other animal?