Life and death are two parts of the same coin, and for many, cremation is the preferred way of handling the remains of their loved ones. However, more eco-friendly options are now available for cremated remains, which are gaining popularity in Australia.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, cremation has been the preferred choice for the disposal of deceased persons since 2013, with the number of cremations exceeding burials in every state and territory. Experts say over 70% of Australians are expected to opt for cremation by 2025.
However, cremation still has environmental impacts. The process requires significant energy and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In addition, the disposal of cremated remains can negatively affect the environment, particularly when they are scattered in natural areas or placed in non-biodegradable urns.
To address these concerns, various eco-friendly options are now available for the disposal of cremated remains. These include turning human ashes into trees by placing the ash in memorial gardens, making biodegradable urns from materials such as bamboo, salt, and sand, and infusing the ashes into something unique. These options reduce the environmental impact of cremation and provide a meaningful and lasting tribute to the deceased.
This blog post will explore these eco-friendly options for cremated remains and their benefits.
5 Eco-Friendly Cremation Options
Memorial trees are an increasingly popular eco-friendly option for memorializing cremated ashes. The cremated ashes are first organically treated to suppress their alkaline nature and create living molecules to ensure that the person’s energy lives forever through the tree.
These trees can also have positive environmental impacts, such as improving air quality, reducing erosion, and providing habitat for wildlife. In addition, human ashes into a tree are a unique way to celebrate the life of a loved one while also contributing to the environment.
Choosing an eco-friendly end-of-life process can involve various earth-friendly burial options. Some of these options include avoiding chemical embalming to keep pollutants out of the ground, opting for smaller and biodegradable headstones or grave markers, and using coffins made of natural and biodegradable materials like cardboard or wood instead of finished lacquered wood or metal rails.
A non-bleached, undyed, and natural fibre shroud can cover the body. Also, choosing a shallow grave can speed up the decomposition process of human remains, further reducing the environmental impact.
Aquamation, also called alkaline hydrolysis or water cremation is a water-based alternative to traditional cremation. The process uses a solution of water and potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide, which is heated to approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of the process, only the bone matter is left, which can be dried and crushed and given to the deceased’s family to do as they please.
Desmond Tutu, the Anglican archbishop, anti-apartheid leader, and environmental advocate requested aquamation instead of cremation by fire, likely because he knew that aquamation uses an estimated 90 per cent less energy than cremation by fire. After the aquamation, his ashes were interred in St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa.
The process produces less carbon dioxide and other emissions, uses less energy and has a smaller ecological footprint than traditional cremation. Additionally, it does not require using fossil fuels or releasing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, making it an eco-friendly option for those looking for a greener end-of-life solution.
Lastly, the art of human composting, also known as body composting, recomposition, or natural organic reduction, is a green burial method similar to donating your remains to a body farm.
The idea of human composting was first introduced by Katrina Spade, an architecture graduate based in Seattle, in 2012. Her goal was to create a space where bodies could return to the earth naturally, without using steel, concrete, or carcinogens.
Spade’s solution was to compost humans in the same way that farmers compost livestock. The process uses wood chips, moisture, and air to accelerate the natural decay and turn human remains into nutrient-rich soil.
This concept is still on the way to getting legal acceptance in many countries and states. However, this is an eco-friendly option to return to the earth where you came from.
Eco-friendly options for cremated remains offer a variety of ways to honour and remember loved ones while also being mindful of our impact on the environment. From memorial trees to human composting, numerous choices are available to those seeking a green burial option.
Considering our environmental impact in all aspects of life, it’s reassuring to know that even in death, we can make choices that benefit the planet and future generations.