A traditional burial isn’t for everyone, and an increasing number of people are having concerns about the lasting environmental impact of their remains. Driven by these sentiments, the emerging use of eco-friendly – or green – burial technology has been a growing topic of interest in recent years. These relatively newer options allow people to lessen the impact they will have on the environment, while in some cases providing a more customized, creative, and meaningful feel. Here are some of the ways the funeral industry is turning burials into a more environmentally-friendly experience.
Becoming a Tree
There are actually several options available for becoming a tree when you die. All of the existing options currently involve burying cremains in special biodegradable urns that include seeds or even saplings which grow out of them. And since ashes could have a negative effect on plant life, most of these options also include soil nutrient compounds to balance those effects and promote growth. Having cremains grow into a tree could allow people to visit a natural memorial that provides a testament to their loved one’s life in lieu of traditional graveyards.
Green Casket Options
Many environmentally-conscious people worry about the waste and permanence inherent in producing and burying traditional wood and metal coffins. Aside from the traditional casket materials, some funeral homes also offer options to help you bury a loved one in biodegradable materials such as cardboard or wicker, as well as sustainably harvested wood. For many advocates of this practice, comfort comes from knowing that both their body and casket will decompose naturally and become part of nature’s larger lifecycle.
You’ve heard of cremation by fire, but what about cremation by water? The process of “water cremation”--also known by the terms aquamation or alkaline hydrolysis--avoids burning fossil fuels and emitting harsh gases into the environment. Instead, it involves dissolving a body into its chemical building blocks by submerging it in a heated, pressurized alkaline solution for just a few hours. The end result is a completely sterile and toxic-free watery liquid that can be disposed of without any negative environmental effects. The sterilized bones will remain and can be crushed and distributed to family members for keeping or scattering, just like traditional ashes.
Artificial Reefs with Ashes
Scattering ashes at sea is no longer the only option for those who want the ocean to be their final resting place. Some businesses, for example, will take urns created from pH balanced artificial reef material and place them along the reefs off the coast of Florida. Other companies create hollow balls for the remains and sink them offshore, providing families with GPS coordinates so they can visit by boat and even dive to see the site of the remains if they wish.
Greener Preservation Methods
Finally, many people are eschewing traditional embalming in lieu of less wasteful options such as dry ice or essential oils. This helps keep potentially toxic residue from seeping into the soil and affecting the plant life that grows around the remains. Currently, no state requires the process of embalming unless the remains have a prolonged period between the death and the preparation for cremation or burial. Even then, there are alternatives to embalming.
For many, eco-friendly burial options are part of naturally becoming one with the earth after death. For others, eco-friendly technology helps the environmentally-conscious get their final wishes while minimizing the impact on the earth. Whatever your reason, if you or someone you love are interested in eco-friendly burial technology, you certainly have a wide variety of alternatives from which to choose.