As hundreds of thousands of pounds of steel and concrete and hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemicals are buried in the 22,000 plus cemeteries across the United States, many are looking to make the disposition of their remains kinder on the environment. Here are six ways that you can make your funeral, burial or cremation more environmentally friendly.
Burial in a Green Cemetery: Remains are buried in natural fiber clothing and non-toxic, biodegradable caskets or just shrouds/natural fiber blanket. Embalming is often not used or, in some cemeteries, prohibited. Headstones or grave markers are limited to environmentally kind materials or natural stones that blend into the natural surroundings.
Bio-Cremation: Alkaline Hydrolysis a/k/a bio-cremation or Resomation®. Uses alkali in water heated to about 350 degrees to decompose a body to ash and liquid (standard cremation is done at around 1500 degrees). The ashes are provided to family members in an urn like regular cremation.
Biodegradable Urns: Made of various biodegradable materials. These urns are often used to plant trees with the ashes of a loved one. Some companies will provide the tree seeds or seedlings with the urn.
Scattering Ashes: You may wish to have your ashes scattered in a favorite place or at sea. If you want your ashes scattered, there may be permits or permissions required.
Coral Reef Contributions: Ashes are mixed with concrete and made into coral reef materials. Some companies include a memorial plaque as part of the reef.
If you wish to be cremated or have your remains disposed of in any other non-traditional manner (burial with a traditional funeral), these directives must be in a signed writing or the law leaves the decisions to your “next of kin”. This signed writing can be the written contract arranging the disposition of your remains or in your Last Will & Testament.