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Coffins and Land Contamination

Updated on January 22, 2015

Eco Friendly Wicker Coffin

Eco-Death: How to Bury an Earth Friendly Corpse written by Heather Rushworth
Eco-Death: How to Bury an Earth Friendly Corpse written by Heather Rushworth | Source

Michael Jackson's Gold Coffin

This coffin for Michael Jackson cost a record $25,000 to make.  Made of bronze and 14kt gold, Michael Jackson was laid to rest on Sept. 3, 09.
This coffin for Michael Jackson cost a record $25,000 to make. Made of bronze and 14kt gold, Michael Jackson was laid to rest on Sept. 3, 09. | Source

Let Us Change the Way We Bury Our Dead

The title "Wearing the Wooden Coat" was coined in the movie, "Gangs of New York" which starred Daniel Day-Lewis as Jack the Butcher, and Leonardo DiCaprio as Amsterdam. The scene in which the line is said occurs when the Butcher's front-man, tells Amsterdam the fate of a man known as Priest. Who happens to be Amsterdam's father although, the Butcher and his gang doesn't know it yet. I thought the line to be a curious one, and it got me thinking about the whole concept of burying the dead, and the need to place dead bodies in "wooden coats" or caskets.

Today, we find ourselves in a reality in which we are forced to realized that our planet is in dire straits, and that years of striping vast forests to wastelands, and by over stretching the earth's ability to reproduce many of it's natural by-products; has reached it's boiling point. For centuries now, humans have over extended their earthly abode without thoughts toward the future. As we still continue to pollute our waterways, or grossly contaminate the atmosphere with harmful fossil fuels- living in denial as to our direct responsibility for the situation, and ignoring vital opportunities to provide solutions to our dilemma- has anyone thought about what the past two hundred years of using harsh chemicals known as embalming fluid is doing to our underground water tables? Have you thought about it lately? Not to mention all the lead lined coffins buried down there too. The underground concrete vaults that coffins are placed into aren't going to last forever. First of all, concrete is a porous material. Water can seep into a concrete vault, just as easily as expired embalming fluids leak out. It's all the same in that sense.

Could this be an area in particular, in which day-to-day people, could have a direct impact on the environment in a positive way? Now just think about that for a second or two. I think could be. One only has to look at a coffin, to see the waste of wood, silk, brass, copper, bronze, and other earthly resources, which go into making an average size coffin today. The wood alone that would be saved from this would have a huge effect on the over reaching demand that has left vital forests such as the Yucatan and Amazon Rain Forests bare. The average size of a "wooden coat" is 4' x 12'. That's a total of 48 sq ft' of dirt for just the hole. Coffins alone take up 36 cubic feet of space.

If everyone in the world is buried in a permanent grave when they die, how much space is used in a year?

In a decade?

A century?

How long will it take before there is no longer land left on the planet to bury the dead or sow crops for that matter?

The Results: If everyone who died last year was buried in a 4' x 10' plot, over 80 square miles of land would have been used in that one year. To put it in perspective, the land used would equal the total land mass size of the state of Rhode Island in ten short years. —Yahoo Answers

Whether we want to admit it or not, coffins are nothing more than an over-priced, storage unit for biodegradable waste..., human or otherwise. That's the ironic part too. Human decomposition is biodegradable! Its good for the environment. Human decomposition promotes plant life, puts nitrogen back into the soil, and feeds wildlife. With the staggering cost of natural resources going higher, and the endangerment of the planet on a global scale, don't you think now is the time for people to rethink the American funeral traditions? Americans need to start coming up with a biodegradable solution to the potential problem, which need to be environmentally responsible but, more importantly would still appease the religious zealots out there! Even in death, Americans tend to think only of their own selfish wants, needs, and desires, even if that means consuming a natural resource to the brink of endangerment. Can you say the American Buffalo? Well land is just as important. However, sooner rather than later, people won't be given a choice. While we still can choose our own fates and funerals, Americans need to come up with new and inventive green funeral ideas. If we choose to continue to ignore this issue, we will quickly run out of precious time to change things according to our religious terms. Land will run out. Water tables are already heavily polluted. So with that said, the opportunity to change things on our terms is now. I see a future where cremation will be the only logical choice. Seeing how cremation does not fit well into the ideology of many religious faiths, shouldn't religious communities be concerned with this? I also happen to personally feel that it should be the religious communities (especially those religious sects dead-set on burying dead people in lavish trash cans called caskets) responsibility to lead a unified, environmentally prudent, charge of action. God so created the earth....., need I say more?

It's time we went Green..., religiously speaking! They seem to be the only ones left in the Dark Ages.


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  • profile image

    me 6 years ago

    that's true

  • profile image

    Sherlock221b 6 years ago

    In the UK, the majority of people are cremated. I am attracted to the Native American idea, where the body is left out in the open to be eaten by birds and other animals. At least I would know that my remains would serve a purpose. I don't like the idea of burial or cremation, or even of being in a coffin, no matter how comfortable it is.

  • aguasilver profile image

    John Harper 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

    Blush, blush, why IntimatEvolution, you embarrass me!

    One day I must add to some of my 'life experience' tales, for God has truly blessed me with an interesting life! (which by the way is an Arabic curse " May Allah bless you with an interesting life!")

    In a way, when we 'bless' someone, it's almost the same, for when we say "My God Bless you" we miss off the ending of that statement, which is: "May God Bless you with a revelation of His Glory" - I once has a secularist leap from their desk and shout "I don't want your blessing' and thought, the spirit in them knows that would mean their eviction!

    Strange days indeed!


  • IntimatEvolution profile image

    Julie Grimes 6 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

    Aqua you always bring your great sense of humor where ever you go. I love your input.

    Another great short story wilderness! I am so excited about being a fan of yours. I love your great tales of your life experiences.

  • aguasilver profile image

    John Harper 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

    Would eating a fish caught in that river then constitute cannibalism! (joking)

  • wilderness profile image

    Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

    I once visited a small island in the Potomac river where most homes have a grave or two in the back yard. When someone else dies the buried remains are dug up, transplanted to the mainland and the newly dead interred until someone else "needs" the space. I understand parts of the deep south are much the same way - no room for new graves.

    For me, cremation is the way to go. One of my co-workers was cremated, with some of the ashes put into a sock and, using a fishing pole, cast into the river he loved to fish in. I very nice sentiment, I thought.

  • IntimatEvolution profile image

    Julie Grimes 6 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

    Hey Twilight, are you aware of the number of Christians vs. the number of Hindus? Christians out number them a lot.

    I think spreading your ashes in your garden is a great idea tsmog!

    Cheers you two thanks for commenting on my hub.

  • tsmog profile image

    Tim Mitchell 6 years ago from Escondido, CA

    Funny aquasilver , , ,I want to be cremated then ashes spread in my garden. I think we think alike.

  • Twilight Lawns profile image

    Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

    All the world's population? I don't think so. A lot of these people, Hindus and others. burn their dead... no leakage into the soil, bust think of all that wood.

    Fill me full to overflowing with embalming fluid... I don't want to wake up and start scratching around for a way out of that coffin, or linen bag.

  • IntimatEvolution profile image

    Julie Grimes 6 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

    Yeah Bob- you did surprise me a bit here. Well good for you. And Aqua, I'm with ya! Totally with ya. Thanks for the read!!! XO's

  • aguasilver profile image

    John Harper 6 years ago from Malaga, Spain

    In reality we are commanded to return to dust as fast as possible, and for me my ideal departure would be to be buried in my own land, with no embalming, in a linen sack dug down into my own soil, plant a cherry tree over me and let Gods dustbin men (worms and maggots) do their duty.

  • no body profile image

    Robert E Smith 6 years ago from Rochester, New York

    Can you guess what I think about this? I think that people won't change until it's too late but I wish they would. I know that once the spirit and soul move on what is left is an empty shell that is useless to everyone. I say my loved ones need to drag my useless paperweight of a body rejoicing (and secretly envying that I am in heaven and they're not) to the backyard and have a wienie roast and marshmallow roast. Sing songs and tell stories. Cry and be happy at the same time. I know that will never happen though. They will haul my carcass off and shove it in a hole. Then people will go to the place where they will cry and feel bad year after year and I am not there. I say feed the fish with it. Sharks will be grateful and I won't care. Then the real cool part: At the last trumpet when the dead in Christ rise first, all those that are in the graves (in wherever that grave is and no matter where those atoms and molecules are they will be reformed into something cool for me. My body will be like His body was. Julie this made me think about how peacefully the subject of this life transforming into the next is for me. You have written as clearly as I can think of how silly people are with after death superstition. Loves ya lady.