When it comes to burying the mortal remains of a deceased person, we can only think of two options: cremation or burial. While these burial options are traditional and have been practised for centuries, they are not environmentally friendly.
From an eco-friendly viewpoint, burials are the worst option. This method uses 77,000 trees, 1.5 million tons of concrete, 100,000 tons of steel, and 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid annually.
Traditional cremation, while a comparatively better option than burial, is not a sustainable practice to honor the dead. It is estimated that each cremation uses the same amount of electricity and gas as a 500-mile road trip and releases almost 250 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Cremation Options for Your Deceased Loved Ones
With technological advancement, eco-friendly options are increasing in every industrial sector. All major industries are adopting sustainable practices, including cremation. It does not matter whether we are talking about electric automobiles, sustainable clothing or paper and steel straws.
Currently, you have many options for “green funerals”, which have been introduced for those who want to honour the dead without harming the environment. Here we introduce you to four sustainable cremation processes widely used all over Australia to bid goodbye to the deceased without disturbing the ecological balance.
Sounds very mystical, right? On the contrary, the process to be a tree after death is scientific yet carries powerful symbolism of life, death, and rebirth. Contrary to the belief that cremated human ashes are similar to wood ashes, it is quite the opposite.
Cremated human ashes and bleach have the same pH level and thus would kill the microorganisms in the soil and cause lasting harm. Mixing untreated human ash with soil to grow a memorial tree would render it unusable.
However, researchers and scientists have come up with a way to treat human ash organically so to unlock the nutrients from it. In this process, scientists can successfully turn the alkaline human ash into living molecules that can help tree growth.
At the memorial garden, treated human ash is mixed with soil to grow trees that carry the memories and your lineage for a lifetime. Memorial trees are literal representations of rebirth and are an extremely eco-friendly way to honour the dead.
This is not only a sustainable burial practice but is a beautiful and peaceful final resting place. Memorial gardens are protected areas, and thus these trees are safe from logging for years to come. As a tangible memorial to your loved one, it will also give you great comfort and courage to move forward.
A relatively new way of water cremation is also known as alkaline hydrolysis. It is a more eco-friendly option than traditional burial methods. In this method, the body is treated with a solution of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide and water. The solution is heated to atleast 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In the end, only the bones are left, which are then crushed or dried and given to the deceased’s family.
This is deemed eco-friendly as, unlike fire cremations, aquamation uses almost 90 per cent less energy.
“Return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
– Genesis 3:19
This time-old scripture truly describes the process of biodegradable urns. These sustainable urns are beautifully crafted to be displayed during the memorial service, thus eliminating the need to rent an urn. More importantly, this is an alternative burial method where the remains are returned to earth in an eco-friendly manner.
If your loved one wished for a green burial, then here are some options you can include in the funeral planning to respect their last wish.
- Opt for a chemical-free embalming process to keep the artificial pollutants from entering the soil
- Use coffins made from biodegradable materials like wood and cardboard, and avoid materials like metal rails and lacquered wood.
- Less intrusive grave markers that are small or biodegradable are also viable options to keep the burial as eco-friendly as possible.
- Try to go for shallow-dug graves to quicken the decomposition process. You can also use a shroud that is undyed and not bleached to cover the body. Shrouds made of natural fibres are a viable option.
Making decisions about funerals and burials can be emotionally stressful after losing a loved one. These non-traditional methods, at first, might seem jarring to you and your family. Hence, it is best to know the deceased’s wishes beforehand and pre-plan the funeral. However, these are all-natural and eco-friendly ways of giving your loved one a peaceful and sustainable sendoff.