Sooner or later, we all have to face the reality of our own mortality, and to make some decisions about how we wish our remains to be treated. A lot of people assume that the primary options are burial and cremation. While these are certainly the most common approaches, they are also among the most environmentally hazardous. Burial accounts for over 1.5 million tons of concrete and 77,000 deforested trees on an annual basis, to say nothing of the massive amount of embalming fluid that’s used. Cremation is not much better, as the process releases a huge amount of carbon gas into the atmosphere.
For those who long for a more environmentally responsible option, there are actually several methods to consider.
Also known as water cremation, this water-based alternative to traditional cremation is an excellent option for anyone who prioritizes sustainability. The process involves a solution of water combined with sodium or potassium hydroxide, heated to a very high temperature to naturally dissolve bodily tissues. At the end of the process only bones are left, and they can be crushed and given to the deceased’s family to do as they please (much like the ashes left at the end of traditional cremation). Aquamation uses 90 percent less energy than traditional cremation does, which is why it’s an increasingly popular green option.
2) Mushroom Burial.
This one may sound farfetched but hear us out. Some people are actually buried in suits lined with mushrooms, which not only aid the body in natural decomposition but also purify the toxins that the body releases as it breaks down. Being buried in a “mushroom suit” is an increasingly normalized option for those who want their remains to leave a minimal environmental footprint.
3) Sea Burial.
Being buried at sea isn’t just for pirates or for sailors! If you have an affinity for the ocean, you may consider being buried in a water-soluble urn, or to have your remains mixed in with an eco-friendly concrete to construct an artificial reef.
4) Green Burial.
A green burial is actually very similar to a normal one, but with some minor tweaks: There’s no embalming fluid used, and no toxic chemicals of any kind. And, your grave will be dug by hand, without the aid of any gas-guzzling machinery. Green burials use caskets made from biodegradable materials, or else simple shrouds in lieu of a casket.
Finally, more and more communities are legalizing “human composting,” wherein the body is converted into soil using all-natural means. Once the process is complete, the composted remains may be used in the home gardens of your loved ones. A Seattle-based company called Recompose is at the forefront of the human composting field; check them out for more information!
Sustainability is something we can think about in all aspects of our life… and even our plans for death. With questions about waste management, reach out to WasteXperts at your convenience.