Choosing whether to be buried traditionally or cremated is a matter of deeply personal or religious preference. Religion is often a determinative factor in this personal decision, as different religions call for different methods of disposing of human remains. Even in the case where religious feelings are not strong, people may feel pressure to follow local customs or family wishes.
Beyond personal or religious preference, some people feel that traditional burial costs are wasted money. They believe that since the casket is going in the ground anyway, spending thousands of dollars on it is an unnecessary and wasteful expense. On the other hand, some people find the tradition comforting, and consider spending thousands of dollars a way to properly honor a loved one. Others are just generally uncomfortable with the thought of their body decomposing over time.
The economic difference between traditional burial versus cremation is a factor in many post-life disposition decisions. It is important to distinguish that traditional burial does not have the same meaning as a funeral at the outset, because both cremation and traditional burial may have funeral services included for extra fees. Traditional burial with a funeral may cost from $3,000.00 to $10,000.00 depending on the types of services chosen. The bulk of this cost results from the quality and type of the headstone, the casket and the casket liner, but other costs make traditional burial with a funeral more expensive than cremation. For example, the cost of a full burial plot varies depending on location from $1,000.00 to $5,000.00. Also included in the total cost are services such as preparing the body and rental of the funeral home for the traditional viewing ceremony.
On the other hand, a simple cremation can cost as low as $1,000.00-$1,500.00 without funeral services. If desired, extra services such as a service and burial of the cremains bring the cost up to $3,000.00 to $6,000.00. A burial plot for the urn containing the cremains is an additional expense, but not everyone chooses to bury the urn, preferring instead to have the ashes scattered or kept in a safe place.
The impact to the environment from burial is a concern for some people. Traditional burial in a casket can cause contaminants to leech into the soil, mainly from the materials forming the casket or toxic embalming fluids. Contamination to groundwater resources from putrefaction of un-embalmed bodies is also possible, leading to diseases such as gastroenteritis. Full burial plots take up valuable rela estate that could be put to better economic or environmental use. On the other hand, some environmentalists actually discourage cremation because of the consumption of fossil fuels necessary to raise the crematory to temperatures of 1600-1800 degrees Farenheit. Modern crematoriums use natural gas, oil, and propane to achieve these temperatures for the hours necessary to cremate a body.