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Sharon Hunter - October 2021

Emerging Trends in Green Funerals

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If there is a single overarching theme it is this: To have minimal environmental impact such that it helps conserve natural resources and reduces carbon emissions. There can be no toxic materials, and only biodegradable materials may be used.

Bio Cremation: (sometimes referred to as Aqua Cremation) is a process based on alkaline hyrolysis for the disposal of human remains using water and potassium hydroxide. It is emerging as a viable alternative to traditional flame based cremation as it uses only ¼ of the energy and produces less carbon dioxide and pollutants. Alkaline Hydrolysis also produces no mercury emissions. The process takes approximately 4-6 hours, and the remaining soft bone matter is crushed and returned to next of kin.

People can have a slightly icky reaction to the description of bio cremation. This is probably in part because we rarely read a detailed description of what flame based cremation involves. If we did so, we would surely have a similar response to the explanation of how a body is disposed of via bio methodology.

Like earth friendly alternatives in all facets of our lives, adoption first happens at the edges. We are grateful for the intellect and investment that pushes the boundaries for options other than traditional cremation.

"People can have a slightly icky reaction to the description of bio cremation. This is probably in part because we rarely read a detailed description of what flame based cremation involves."

Natural Burial: The definition and standards can vary, but there are some common themes. Taking the beautiful description from The Natural Burial Company, “it is the direct earth burial of a body or cremated remains in a biodegradable container that allows the elements to return fully to the soil over time”. There can be no embalming, nor is there concrete or steel lined vault liners. Traditional gravesite markers such as headstones are often replaced with planting.

Natural burial grounds, if not becoming common place are at least becoming more accessible. Currently, there are some 160 natural burial sites in America.

Costs vary depending on the cemetery you choose, and whether, and to what degree you engage a funeral director. A green burial with family input can be as low as $1,000.

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