Environmentally Friendly Ways to Be Buried
We’ll all kick the bucket sooner or later. While it seems weird to worry about what happens to your body, your loved ones would appreciate some direction since they can’t just dump your body in the desert. It’s frowned upon, at least in America.
Most people end up buried or cremated.
Unlike bridal dresses, you can’t just rent a casket the day of the funeral and return it after, which sucks because they can be ridiculously expensive. $2,000-5,000? For a box people will see one time? Get outta here.
Isn’t there a less wasteful way to die?
Did you know that over 100,000 tons of steel are used constructing caskets each year? None of that metal is ever recycled, and smelting it emits a lot of CO2. Practices like this literally bury natural resources in the ground where they're never seen or used again.
Honestly, the whole concept of the casket seems like a relic of the past. Cut down a few trees, harvest premium cuts of lumber, then build an incredibly ornate box to stick in the ground forever.
Bodies decompose on their own. It’s the circle of life—you eat plants, then you become plant food. Still, many traditions value the coffin as a means to honor their loved one. There has to be some way to be buried without thousands of pounds of wood, steel or concrete.
The Greenest Caskets to RIP
The idea of a final resting place brings innate comfort to many people. Visitors can pay respects to a headstone while the body under their feet returns to the earth. And you might be surprised at the eco-friendly innovations on that front.
Actor Luke Perry was buried in a mushroom suit made by Coeio, turning his remains into a perennial mushroom patch. According to his surviving family members, he was extremely excited about a chance to live on through other organisms.
Loop of Life makes this mushroom coffin that allows your body to play an active role in the betterment of forests and ecosystems through its donation of nutrients, nitrogen and essential elements like copper. For the rattan enthusiast, wicker coffins are also available. They cost far less than traditional offerings and are dignified in their simplicity.
Burial isn’t for everyone though.
Don’t Put Me in a Box
The most common alternative to being buried is cremation. Under temperatures of up to 1800°F, your body is reduced to ashes and collected in an urn. Your loved ones then display that urn somewhere special or spread your ashes in a place with personal meaning to you.
What most people don’t know is that cremation is far from eco-friendly. Each year, nearly 7 million metric tons of CO2 enter the atmosphere due to cremations. Tooth fillings that vaporize make up a significant chunk of airborne mercury poisoning. Cremation needs a green overhaul.
Aquamation may be one answer. Using a chemical process called alkaline hydrolysis, bodies are immersed in warm, alkali-rich water for a few hours, leaving behind dust similar to the ashes from traditional cremation. Using nearly 90% less energy, aquamation is a great way to keep the ashes of your loved ones while honoring Mother Earth.
Once your loved ones have your ashes, there are many ways to celebrate your memory. Bios created a biodegradable urn that uses ashes to grow a tree of your choosing. Imagine your descendants relaxing in the shade of your leaves a few decades down the road?
You don’t need to be cremated to become a tree though. Human composting is a practice that has already been legalized in a few states, and it’ll only become more popular. Your body is buried like normal, just without a coffin, letting your body give back to the soil.
To Be or Not to Be Buried
Cremation and burial have been around for so long that it’s hard to imagine any other way to go. Just remember, you can always give your body to science. Whether it’s for medical students or forensic anthropologists, your body is a completely unique specimen that offers troves of helpful information for future generations.
There are so many eco-friendly ways to take your final rest. Your fellow Earthlings appreciate your consideration not to include fossil fuels and CO2 emissions.