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Friday, February 09, 2007

Natural Return by the Numbers

Percentage of Americans who were cremated in 1964: 4
In 1984: 13
In 2004: 31
Number of years from now when more Americans will be cremated than buried, for the first time in our history: 18

Percentage of Americans cremated in body bags/wrappings: 2.5
Percentage cremated in cloth-covered caskets: 5
Percentage cremated in wood caskets: 9
Percentage cremated in cardboard/pressboard containers: 82

Of twenty-four countries surveyed, rank of Japan for highest percentage of population cremated: 1
Rank of Ghana: 24
Rank of U.S. 11
Of U.S. states, rank of Hawaii for highest percentage of population cremated: 1
Rank of Mississippi: 50

Average cost of funeral in U.S.: $6,500
Typical cost of funeral plus burial: $10,000
Average cost of cremation, including casket/container: $1,800
Cost of burial at the natural cemetery of Ramsey Creek Preserve, including cardboard container: $1,950

Percentage of caskets sold in U.S. that are metal: 68
Percentage made of hardwood: 18
Percentage made from pressed wood, softwood, or cardboard: 12.5

Average cost of casket: $2,200
Cost of plain pine casket, made by woodworker Loren Schieuer: $800
Board feet of lumber used to produce standard wood casket: 140
Board feet of lumber Loren Schieuer uses: 50

The bamboo "Eco" coffin pictured above is manufactured by the SAWD Partnership, a British company headquartered in Kent which the London-based Natural Death Centre recently named best coffin manufactuer in the U.K. The bamboo is handcrafted in the company's workshop in China's Hunan Province. It is sold in the U.K. and not distributed in North America.

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