Humanity has always sought to commemorate and preserve our loved ones when they die. The problem is, we’re starting to realise just how heavy a price we’re paying in respecting our dead.
Our cemeteries take up massive amounts of land, and ridiculous amounts of water in the maintenance. We’re running out of room, and in some places, running out of water for keeping it nice.
Meanwhile, we use embalming to keep dead bodies in good condition, and the chemicals we use – formaldehyde and phenol in particular – can be lethal if ingested by the living. Imagine what that does to the microorganisms in the soil, the bugs that eat them, the birds that eat them, the cats that eat them…
Maybe you want to go for a cremation. It seems like it would be fairly clean, right? No chemicals are going into the soil and your body isn’t taking up any land. But in burning your body, you’re actually releasing chemicals into the atmosphere. Things like carbon monoxide, soot and sulphur dioxide are released when our bodies burn, and if you’ve got any fillings there’ll be mercury to deal with.
The good news is there are positive changes emerging. People are getting eco-savvy and in doing so have provided a sense of impetus and innovation to the most morbid of industries.
That’s right folks, you don’t have to pollute the earth when you die.
The most modest burial service I’ve discovered is something called body composting. The steps are as follows:
- Take the dead body and put it in a hole.
- Mix plant materials to ensure you have a decent carbon-nitrogen ratio.
- Cover the body with these plant materials.
- Wait for 4-7 weeks. The micro-organisms that come in naturally with the plant materials will break down the body. You can rotate the body every now and then for a faster process.
From what they say, you wouldn’t know the difference between body compost and regular compost. Body compost looks deep and rich with nutrients, and apparently smells quite nice!
It’s already been embraced in Washington State, and people in Colorado and California are starting to embrace the idea themselves.
For me, I want my body to be used to grow a tree.
When I die, I want them to take my body, put it in a biodegradable pod and place me with the seeds of the tree. That way my body can contribute to a new life, long after I’m gone.
If anyone else is interested in that, check out Capsula Mundi.