In today’s energy consumption obsessed world, it seems like everyone is talking about ways that they can ‘go green’. Basically, everyone wants to be more ‘environmentally friendly’, so they drive less, turn off the lights more and try to be more conscious about how the everyday choices they are making impacts the health of the environment. While everyone is renovating their lives to make for ‘green living’, few have thought about the impact that their death will have on the environment.
The subject of death is often taboo in many households, though studies have shown that some cultures are becoming more open to discussing the dead physical body, instead of just focusing on life after death. There are many different options when it comes to disposing of the deceased body. In many Christian countries traditional burials are common, while in many parts of the world funeral pyres are the most common way that families say goodbye to their loved ones.
For those interested in living a ‘green’ lifestyle, it turns out that cremation is the most earth-friendly option available. This is due in part to the fact that the chemicals used in the embalming process—which is necessary in order to preserve the body for a funeral—are incredibly dangerous for the environment. In addition, the materials out of which caskets are made and the manicuring of cemeteries introduces further pollutants into the earth on an ongoing basis. In light of this large-scale pollution, the ill effects of burning the body during cremation are small in comparison.
To make the option even more attractive to the environmentally conscious, specialists are beginning to devise new ways to cremate with the goal of creating a method that leaves no carbon footprint at all. Many funeral homes already do their best to filter the emissions that result from the cremation process. Not satisfied with this, there is a new cremation player on the market, one which uses no flame at all. Taking advantage of a process that hospitals have already been using for years, some funeral homes have been offering a process that liquefies the body instead of burning it. Called alkaline hydrolysis, the process uses nothing but lye and hot water to dissolve the body, a process that requires only 1/20th of the amount of energy used during traditional cremation and which releases nothing into the air.
Losing a loved one, or even thinking about our own (inevitable) death is always difficult. But being prepared in advance is always the best way to make sure that you will have made your own choices in death, just as you did in life. It is also a valuable way to avoid having your grieving family members pushed into making choices that they, too are not comfortable with or cannot afford. Cremation is simply the most environmentally responsible, uncomplicated, and affordable way of leaving the physical body behind. If you think you are ready to consider the options, start talking with your family members today.