Traditional burial practices are an integral part of human culture for centuries. However, the environmental consequences of these practices need our attention. In fact, one significant contributor to the ecological footprint of traditional burials is concrete.
The Role of Concrete in Traditional Burials
Burial Vaults and Grave Liners
A common practice in traditional burials is using burial vaults or grave liners, typically made of concrete or other non-biodegradable materials. These structures are placed in the ground to surround the casket, providing support and preventing the collapse of the burial site over time. In short, the primary purposes of burial vaults and grave liners are to:
- Protect the casket from external forces, such as the weight of the earth and heavy machinery used in cemetery maintenance.
- Maintain the appearance of the grave site by preventing soil from sinking and settling, which can lead to uneven ground.
Mausoleums and Tomb Construction
In addition, concrete is also used extensively in the construction of mausoleums and tombs. Thus, these above-ground structures use reinforced concrete, marble, or other non-biodegradable materials to house caskets or cremated remains.
The Environmental Impact of Concrete Usage in Traditional Burials
Concrete production is a carbon-intensive process, accounting for many global carbon dioxide emissions. The cement industry, a key component of concrete production, releases substantial greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Therefore, concrete used in traditional burials contributes to these emissions, further exacerbating climate change.
Concrete used in burial vaults, grave liners, and mausoleums is non-biodegradable. It remains in the ground indefinitely, occupying space and contributing to landfill waste. This contrasts with more environmentally-friendly burial practices, such as green burials, where biodegradable materials allow the body and casket to decompose naturally, enriching the soil.
In short, producing concrete requires extracting finite natural resources, including sand, gravel, and limestone. Mining for these resources can lead to habitat destruction, soil erosion, and groundwater contamination. The depletion of these resources can also have long-term environmental consequences.
Alternatives for a Greener Burial
Recognizing the environmental concerns associated with concrete usage in traditional burials, many individuals are exploring alternative burial practices that reduce their ecological impact. Some eco-friendly burial options include:
- Green Burials: These burials prioritize minimal environmental impact by avoiding embalming fluids, non-biodegradable caskets, and concrete vaults. Bodies are typically interred in biodegradable materials, allowing for natural decomposition.
- Cremation with Eco-Urns: Cremation can be a more environmentally friendly when paired with Eco-friendly urns made from biodegradable materials.
- Natural Burial Grounds: Natural burial grounds promote sustainability, with strict guidelines on materials and practices to minimize environmental impact.
After all, the substantial use of concrete in traditional burials contributes to a significant environmental footprint. So, as awareness of environmental issues grows, more people are seeking alternative burial practices that align with their values and reduce their impact on the planet. So, by exploring Eco-conscious options such as green burials, cremation with Eco-urns, and natural burial grounds, individuals can make choices that honor their loved ones’ memories while benefiting the environment. Indeed, the shift towards more sustainable burial practices is a positive step towards reducing our collective environmental footprint.
Preserving our earth is a shared responsibility. By working together, we can make a difference. Please contact Serenity Ridge in Maryland. We are Maryland’s only green burial cemetery.