Green Burial Blog
help us spread the word about green burial so we all share in protecting our environment.
Using embalming fluids when someone dies has been done for over a hundred years, so it can’t be that bad, right? However, the more you know about embalming fluids, the embalming process, and the effects it has on the environment, the more you may want to reconsider how you are buried when the time comes.
If you’re planning for how you want to be buried, here are a few things to know about embalming.
What Are Embalming Fluids?
Even though they’re commonly referred to as fluids, which sounds harmless, they are a mixture of chemicals and preservatives. Embalming fluid contains formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol, and other solvents. In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program described formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen." Glutaraldehyde is also used as a disinfectant and fixative. Methanol is a volatile, flammable liquid chemical. These chemicals can be incredibly harmful when someone is exposed to them, even just their fumes. After deconstructing embalming fluids, that alone might be enough to cause people to reconsider a traditional burial.
What is the Embalming Process?
The embalming process is essentially two steps: replacing bodily fluids with embalming fluids and cosmetically preparing the body for viewing. First, blood and other fluids are removed through the veins and then replaced with an embalming solution, which is also done through the veins. Second, gas and fluids found within organs in the chest and abdomen are removed and replaced with embalming fluids. This occurs through a small incision in the abdomen. Then, the body is prepared with some makeup, hair is styled, and the body is dressed.
The Effects of Embalming Fluid on the Environment
As you can imagine, placing chemicals into the body may also have a negative effect on the environment once the body is placed into the ground. According to an article in the Berkeley Planning Journal, over 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid are used each year. And, as the body decomposes (embalming fluids only delay decay, not prevent it entirely), these chemicals are released from the body and can reach the surrounding soils. The Berkeley journal goes on to say that the surrounding soils have higher concentrations of copper, lead, zinc, and iron, which are materials used in the construction of caskets.
When you add up the square footage of all of the cemeteries across the nation, it’s clear that traditional burials and the use of embalming fluids cannot be good for the environment.
Choose a Cleaner Burial – EverAfterly Offers Green Burials in Northern California
EverAfterly offers alternative burial options, including green burials and cremation burial plots. We offer several natural burial locations in Northern California, including Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, Whispering Pines in the Sierra Mountains, and Morgan Oaks in Placer County.
Our green burial sites are essentially nature preserves that are protected and restored through the endowments provided by those laid to rest on the property. Our team is passionate about helping preserve our environment for future generations, and also allowing people a more natural and safe way to be buried. Our environment is a delicate ecosystem and traditional burial practices are placing an incredible amount of stress on that system. We hope to provide people with an alternative option, one that is safer, and that allows nature to truly thrive. Learn more about our mission at EverAfterly, and contact us with any questions you may have about green burials.