It is said that there are only two certainties in life Death and taxes.
Well that is certainly true of death. Well, that and the endless advertisements for funeral insurance on day time television. And they are quite right in what they are saying that funerals can be very expensive.
It is generally believed that we either have a conventional funeral or a cremation. And there is much to say about both. Your religion may well dictate your direction in the immediate afterlife.
However, there is a third option, an eco-friendlier option, as well as potentially being cheaper.
Let us return the body to Nature. Conventional burial and cremations do not do this.
Simplistically, embalming, prevents decomposition. The coffin is generally made from veneered partial board. More recently coffins have been imported from China with much less environmental provenance as well as plastic fittings and linings.
Cremation, wastes the protein and fats which are in the body, just converts them in pollutants. Indeed, the resultants contain a potentially hazardous waste. EU legislation has insisted that Mercury be removed, but not other chemicals such as dioxins and furans.1
The crematoriums are neither energy efficient or very good at sealing with these chemicals, much of which goes up the flue and then down wind.
Embalming typically takes 2 gallons of carcinogenic fluid, this too end sup going up the flue.
This is happening around 400,00 times a year in the UK.
So, what about burial, you ask.
Well for a start we are putting that 2 gallons of carcinogenic chemicals into the ground. We are preserving the body from decomposition. Similarly, we are burying the wood caskets fittings and lining whether plastic or metal.
The relatively new concept of Natural Burial also us to be buried naturally, in a simple coffin in a natural meadow. A meadow full of flowers and trees and possible shared with deer, hedgehogs voles and the such like. Reducing the mowing to maybe once or twice a year allows the growth of those wildflowers that are currently are currently becoming so rare.
Professor Douglas Davies of Durham University described this kind of habitat creation as ‘gifting’ the body to future generations. He compared it to giving blood or donating organs.
‘Gifting’ the body to a natural burial site is recognised by some clerics, thereby allowing a religious burial as well as being environmentally friendly.
Natural burial is not completely ‘green’. There is of course the carbon cost of digging the grave, but this so often is done by hand. The body’s decomposition also gives off some methane, this is partly offset by the undisturbed turf, the flowers and the tree roots.
There is also a eco-friendly choice, whether in a cardboard coffin, a wicker one or even a shroud. All more environmentally friendly than a conventional coffin.