In today’s society, there is a large focus on living in a way that is as eco-friendly as possible, with sustainability being at the forefront of many companies’ and individuals’ ethos alike. This is all in a bid to nurture the environment instead of destroying it, attempting to reverse the negative impacts humankind has had on the planet.
Though eco-friendly practices are being adopted in life, people often overlook what can be done to continue as such in death. Traditional burials and cremations can actually have a negative impact on the environment, which is why we’ve explored three ways you can give back to nature when you die, so you won’t have to compromise your sustainability ethos.
In traditional burials, a body is first embalmed with preservative chemicals, then buried in a coffin that uses up natural hard-wood materials and metal. This is not a particularly environmentally friendly way to be buried, as the coffin can take many years to fully decompose and the chemicals used in the embalming process may leak into and contaminate the surrounding soil.
An alternative to this, then, is to have a natural burial. Natural burials, or green burials, involve the use of eco-friendly coffins, such as those made out of wicker or willow – neither of which require the use of glue or any other fittings and are quick to decompose, thus having minimal impact on the environment. These take place at natural burial sites, tending to be either woodlands or meadows.
It is common for a memorial tree or wildflowers to be planted on top of the grave at green burials, not only to commemorate the deceased individual, but to help support and maintain the local environment.
As an alternative to having your ashes scattered or buried, you can instead have them utilised to give back to the environment by turning them into an Eternal Reef. Eternal Reefs are man-made, specially designed reefs that are made using environmentally-safe cast concrete that incorporates your ashes.
These are then placed on the ocean floor, not only creating a permanent memorial of a life well-lived, but simultaneously offering habitat to marine life and plants, encouraging them to thrive. These can also be personalised to a degree, as loved ones could place handprints or inscriptions in the damp concrete during casting, or travel by boat to watch the deployment of the reef as it’s placed in its final resting site at sea.
Cremations are among one of the most popular methods for handling a body after death, however the amount of carbon dioxide produced as a result of this process means it is not necessarily environmentally sustainable.
An emerging alternative for this is water cremation. A water cremation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis, is a process that involves placing a deceased body in 95% hot water with the addition of 5% sodium or potassium hydroxide (or a mix of both), which work to dissolve the body’s tissue and fats into liquid – leaving behind only the bones, which are subsequently turned into ash through pulverisation and returned to the family to be kept or scattered.
This process mimics what happens to a person’s body naturally when buried, however it takes only four hours, rather than the average eight-twelve years it takes to decompose underground. This is an environmentally friendly process, as the liquids produced go through the water treatment process before being drained into the mains water system.
Stockman & Loram
If you’re looking for alternative memorials and funeral services to commemorate your loved one, look no further than Stockman & Loram. We offer a number of non-traditional services, including celebrations of life, green funerals and memorial cremation jewellery.
Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you honour the life of your lost loved one.