In today’s day and age, cremation has become the most popular choice across the U.S. when choosing to lay our loved ones to rest. In terms of future burial planning, cremation is also the most commonly requested choice. While a voluntary donation to science is also quite popular.
Yes, planning for your death seems like a rather macabre task. But it can really help to take the pressure off your loved ones when you pass on. Sure, you may not have thought about it in much detail. But it may be wise to consider your burial the next time you update your estate/will.
If your future impact on the environment is an important factor to you. Here’s why you might want to consider green cremation.
Burial vs Cremation: The Environmental Impact
It’s difficult to think about the scale of death in global terms, i.e. the daily mortality rate. But according to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. loses over 200,000 members of its population each month.
This mortality rate can take its toll on the environment, whether a person or their family members choose cremation or burial. As mentioned, cremation has become a popular choice. Not so much because of the environmental impact, but because it’s easier on the wallet.
Aside from this, burial is not as eco-friendly because of the sheer amount of land and space it requires. When you consider the mortality rate in the U.S. alone, as one single country, burial can be likened to land industrialization.
This is where cremation becomes a far more carbon-neutral option, however, there are concerns over the gases emitted during this process too. When it comes time to plan your own funeral, here’s why green cremation may sit better with you.
Green Cremation: How Exactly Does It Work?
Also known as bio-cremation or alkaline hydrolysis, this is one of the most eco-friendly ways of laying yourself or your loved ones to rest. The overall premise of green cremation is to convert the body into its original elements in the least impactful way on the environment.
So, what does this process involve?
In short, a combination of potassium hydroxide and water dissolves the body in a few short hours. Instead of using fire, the body is gently reduced to its most basic elements of bone and ash. The process is quiet and respectful and intends to honour the body and environment at the same time.
When choosing green cremation, you don’t have to worry about toxic fumes or gases being released into the atmosphere. Here are a few other benefits:
- The process does not require any filtration or abatement systems
- The atmosphere is not exposed to harmful mercury vaporizations and dental amalgam is contained and recycled
- There is no need for a casket, which calls for the use of fewer resources
- Green cremation reduces the use of fossil fuels
- It produces no greenhouse gases and is four times less harmful to the environment
- The process is also highly energy-efficient and requires little to no energy at all
- All by-products of the green cremation process are safe i.e. they do not pose bacterial or chemical contamination
Along with this, you do not have to worry about the removal of medical devices before the cremation process, which often comes at an additional cost. The process also preserves up to 20 per cent more bone fragments of the body.
The Green Cremation By-Product
Not only is green cremation less harmful to the earth. But it also helps to promote the growth of new life via the effluent by-product.
Once the cremation process is complete, and the remains have been collected, the by-product of the process, is also known as effluent. This product is beneficial from an earth fertilization standpoint.
The effluent is made up of sugars, amino acids, peptides, and non-toxic soaps. It is then water recycled and filtered where it is sent back into the earth. This recycled effluent feeds into lakes, streams, and other non-potable water sources.
Essentially, green cremation helps to promote a full circle of life by encouraging the growth of new life as nature intended.
The Green vs. Traditional Burial Process
If you don’t like the idea of cremation and prefer the more traditional burial process, there are also environmentally friendly burial options. One of the most popular includes a green burial.
When you opt for a traditional burial, this includes harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, which is used as an embalming fluid. It also requires land and a casket, which eats into the earth’s precious resources. Not to mention the fact that traditional burial is also quite expensive in comparison to cremation.
The Green Burial Process
So how is a green burial different? When it comes to the embalming process, morticians use dry-ice, refrigeration, and formaldehyde-free fluids over other harmful embalming products. In essence, they use a more natural approach to embalming the body.
The point of this process is to preserve the body during the time between death and the memorial service. If you want to avoid the embalming process entirely to make it even more eco-friendly, host the memorial service no longer than 48 hours after a loved one passes on.
Instead of a traditional casket or coffin, more natural and bio-degradable materials are preferred. In short, the container is made up of only sustainable material that will degrade back into the earth i.e. no metal hardware, etc.
Most of the time, biodegradable materials such as linen, wool, cardboard, or wicker make for a good shroud for green burial. The overall premise of green burial is also to encourage rapid degradation of the body so that it makes its way back into the earth as soon as possible.
In terms of the burial ground, this area is not maintained by a funeral home or landscaping crew. Instead, natural burial sites encourage that the land is dug up and then left as it would appear naturally. You can use a specific, natural landmark such as an existing tree or flat stone to mark the burial site.
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One of the best things you can do for the earth when you leave it is to choose the process of green cremation. If the idea of giving back to the earth appeals to you, then green cremation is your answer.
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