Funeral Options: How should I go?
Funeral options: Lessening the environmental impact of death.
Burnt, buried or frozen and turned into diamonds, fireworks, powder and sent into space are just some of the funeral options for your final send off.
Clearly, all of these funeral options have an environmental impact, but some are massively worse than others says a recent Reuters report.
In the United Kingdom about 75% of us are cremated which uses about broadly the amount of domestic energy a person uses in a four weeks. Worldwide, cremation creates nearly 7 million metric tons of CO2 annually. That can’t be good.
Cremation also vaporises mercury tooth fillings and over 15% of mercury emitted in the UK is caused by cremation and that is rising rapidly, meaning more pressure on crematoria to further filter emissions otherwise their mercury emission could total one quarter of all UK mercury emissions within less than 8 years.
This will have further effects of the cost of funeral and prepaid funeral plans.
New Funeral Options.
As we have mention elsewhere, many firms are developing technologies which attempt to reduce pollution.
In India, Hindus traditionally cremate using firewood which uses 50 to 60 million trees every single year creating 8 million metric tons of CO2 says Mokshda, an Indian organisations trying to reduce the environmental impact of funeral pyres. They report developing a new method reducing heat loss, requiring far less trees than a normal pyre and therefore cutting emissions by up to 60 percent.
Scottish company Resomation Ltd has developed a process which reduces the body in an alkaline solution. The process uses very high temperatures in a pressurised container and they claim a reduction of over 85% in energy use over cremation and a cut in greenhouse gases over more than one third. Impressive claims. Resomation still has to be approved for use in Britain but they have installed their equipment in the US.
Suffolk firm Cryomation Ltd has technology which freezes using liquid nitrogen until it the body is brittle, importantly removes metal elements and then converts the remains to a powder which can be buried in a natural graveyard or scattered as you wish. The firm is currently seeking funds to build its first unit.
A report last year by Dutch research group TNO said resomation and cryomation had the lowest environmental impact of all funeral methods and burial – surprisingly – had the highest impact.
Burial is not the “green” option it is claimed, as it takes up space underground, the process of decay gives off the greenhouse gas methane and coffins use a lot of steel, copper, bronze or wood, though metal content has been substantially reduced over recent years.
Formaldehyde-based embalming chemicals leaking into the environment after burial is also thought to be potentially damaging but needs more research.
Greener burial options are growing. Natural or woodland burials sites are springing up all over UK. Over 260 since the first one opened around 1992. Such burials are usually in a woodland setting or meadow in wicker, cardboard, or other eco coffins.
Environmental concerns, reducing the burden of maintaining conventional graves on families and cost are some of the common reasons for choosing a natural burial.
Why not incorporate environmental funeral options into your prepaid funeral plan?