Are catacombs a green solution to the unsustainable burial issue?



  1. 0 Votes

    It depends on how catacomb burials are conducted. Catacombs–essentially, networks of underground tunnels–were used for centuries as burial places, especially in Europe where cemetery space was at a premium. Current environmental issues with the modern funeral industry tend to focus on chemicals and processes used in embalming, the composition of coffins and the carbon footprints of grave-digging equipment, although the problem catacomb burials once solved, that being lack of cemetery space, is still a concern in some communities. A large-scale change in our modern burial customs to catacombs instead of cemeteries might address the latter concern but none of the former, unless the change was accompanied by other changes in embalming techniques and whether coffins would still be used. Considering that most human societies have tended to bury their dead with some thought given to the preservation of human remains (most notably the Egyptians, who made it both an art and a sacrament), simple shifting of modern graves to catacombs probably wouldn’t significantly decrease the overall environmental impact of the funeral industry. In order to be truly effective “sustainable burial” efforts should probably try to focus more on achieving societal and social objectives of funerals and burials with less environmentally-harmful materials.

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