Greener Funerals with Green Caskets
In each of these example scenarios we see that transportation can be the largest factor in the carbon impact of green casket alternatives to a steel casket. For the steel casket, due to great efficiency in ocean cargo, the dominating factor is the impact of the steel production and casket manufacturing processes. Let's summarize the comparison of green caskets to a domestically manufactured steel casket from imported Chinese steel at 1 ton CO2e. A woven casket shipped by ocean cargo compares at roughly 150 lbs--more than 90% less CO2e than a steel casket. However, the same woven casket shipped by air freight exceeds 2400 lbs CO2e which is 20% more than the steel casket! An eco-conscious casket maker using local sustainable pine compares at 50 lbs CO2e when being conservative with transportation. A locally made pine casket may have the smallest carbon footprint comparing at 98% less impact than a steel casket and 1/3 the impact of a woven casket. But again, if shipped single-unit on a light truck for 200 miles round-trip, the impact of the same pine casket may be as much as or exceed the 150 lbs CO2e estimated for an imported woven casket.
So what do I recommend as the "greenest" alternative in caskets? Buy Local. Drive Less. And get to know your supplier by asking lots of questions.