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What Trends for Other Funeral Services Tell Us About Environmental Impact and Cremation Rates

We’ve known for some time that cost is a major contributing factor in the rising cremation rates. But what about environmental concerns?
What Trends for Other Funeral Services Tell Us About Environmental Impact and Cremation Rates

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It’s clear that consumers are more environmentally conscious today than in previous years, however, funeral services aren’t like other commodities. A lot goes into funeral decisions. We know this from working one-on-one with families, and because the choices people make have been tracked for decades. 

Today, when consumers are surveyed they’re often asked whether concerns over environmental impact affect their decisions. Research from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) has found environmental concerns is a top reason why more people are electing to be cremated. Let’s take a look at three related surveys that support the NFDA’s findings. 

Increased Interest in Alternatives to Burial Are Connected to Environmental Concerns

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic it’s that the event changed how many people view funeral services. It caused many people to reflect on what they would really want and what is most important to them. The result has been more interest in unconventional options.

A survey from Choice Mutual that was conducted just before and after the start of the pandemic found that the number of people who wanted to donate their body to science had nearly doubled. It went from 6% of respondents’ first choice in January 2019 to 11% after the start of the pandemic. People are motivated to donate their body to science (which almost always ends with cremation) for a variety of reasons. Way back in 2010 researchers discovered two of the top motivating factors were a desire to be useful after death and a negative attitude towards funerals. 

Both of those reasons, especially the latter, have direct ties to environmentalism. The motivations suggest more people are factoring in how the disposition of their body after death impacts the health and wellbeing of others. 

There was another interesting statistic from a 2018 MedCure survey. The survey found that more Millennials and Baby Boomers today say that they want to donate their body to science with a cremation at the end compared to Gen-Xers. This is significant since Baby Boomers and Millennials are the two largest generations and account for the majority of people that are pre-planning their funerals right now.    

Green Burials Indicate Environmental Concern is a Big Factor for Choosing Funeral Services

A strong indicator that environmental concerns are driving the decision to choose cremation is the fact that green burial is also on the rise. When the Education Committee of the Green Burial Council surveyed green burial cemeteries in 2015 they found that minimizing the impact on the environment was the number one reason green burial is selected. 

This survey also revealed that environmental concerns make cremation more appealing too. When asked what alternative they would choose other than green burial, nearly half of those surveyed would choose cremation. It was second only to direct burial at a conventional cemetery, which is the closest service to green burial but not always an option. 

Many Millennials Are Motivated by Environmental Concerns in All Consumer Decisions

In general, the majority of Americans take the environment into consideration to some degree when they make purchasing decisions, especially Millennials. Research shows Millennials favor businesses that support the environment. What this tells us is that even when a Millennial chooses traditional burial, they are more likely to choose a funeral home that’s mindful of their environmental impact. 

Given their concern over how their decisions impact the environment during life, it’s not surprising to find Millennials are more open to cremation than older generations. The majority note eco-friendliness as one of the motivators for selection cremation over burial. 

If you’d like to know more about eco-friendly cremation services our team can provide all of the information you need. Give us a call, text or email 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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