Burial Alternatives In South Africa

Burial Alternatives in South Africa

Many people prefer burials as an end-of-life choice. This may be due to religious or personal reasons. Yet, there is not enough land in South Africa for new cemeteries. So, there is an urgent need to explore alternatives to traditional burial.

In this article, we will look at some alternatives to burial. Take a minute and watch the video or read the article if you have some time.

Alternatives To A Burial

Major cities are running out of land to bury the dead. Major Cities such as Johannesburg, Durban and Cape town now actively support the principle of alternative burials and interments. Whilst it may be somewhat unsettling to think about, it is possibly less unsettling than the thought of recycling grave sites.

Here are some unique ways you can lay your loved one to rest, other than a burial:

#1. Body Donation

This is a good way to contribute to the growth of science and medicine. Medical schools use human cadavers (bodies) to teach students anatomy and surgical procedures.

These schools also use cadavers to study diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and search for cures.

If you want to help the planet, perform a great service to society as well as save on the siginificant expenses of a traditional funeral, body donation is a really good option. We have added some links at the end of the article where you can find more information.

#2. Natural Burials

This is different from the standard burial because the body is not embalmed. There are also no materials lining the graves like what may be used in certain modern cemeteries.

Instead, the funeral home will place the body in a biodegradable casket. This allows the body of your loved one to naturally biodegrade.

Natural burials may be less expensive than traditional burials. As well as not utilizing harmful preservation aids and chemicals which helps the ecosystem.

There may also be ethical reasons or other personal reasons for not wishing to use embalming or preservation aids and chemicals.

#3. Cremation

More people have opted for cremation in recent times. This is because it has more options than a traditional burial.

You can place the cremated remains in an urn or a columbarium at a cemetery. The columbarium is a building where you can store marked urns of loved ones.

Families can pay visits in the same manner as visiting a headstone. Another alternative is to keep the cremated remains at home or scatter the ashes.

In all, it is a flexible option when compared to a traditional burial.

#4. Mushroom Suit

If you support the green movement, you will like this alternative. This involves burying a body with a suit made of organic cotton, laced with mushroom spores.

The suit transforms the biodegraded body into a safer material for the environment. It neutralizes the toxins in the human body and turns them into nutrients for the soil.

The cost may be somewhat more expensive than the traditional burial but it makes a sustainable contribution to the ecosystem.

So, if you are thinking about an alternative burial, this may suit. Interestingly, the actor Luke Perry chose a mushroom suit burial on his passing recently.

#5. Bio Urn

This is a lovely way to remember loved ones that have passed. Also, if you have considered becoming a tree after you die, you could look into this.

This method is often also referred to as a  tree burial and offers great benefits to the ecosystem. It involves the planting of a young tree inside the urn, separate from the ashes.

Then, when the roots get mature, they mix with the ashes and grow. So, a real tree, plant, or flower comes to life as a result.

Also, the materials have no preservatives. So, it is a safe biodegradable alternative.

You can plant the Bio Urn in a garden of remembrance. It is a unique opportunity to be closer to your loved one.


Planning a final resting place is a tough decision to make, whether for you or a loved one. It is much better however, to plan before time in order to minimize the decisions and preparation required during a period of bereavement.

With the limited number of cemeteries in South Africa, you are well served to explore viable alternatives. The options we have suggested above are all very acceptable alternatives to a traditional burial whilst in all cases being beneficial to the environment and in certain cases, your wallet.

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