The Most Eco-Friendly Way to Spend Eternity?

Resomation machine photo
Inventor claims his new cremation method has a low environmental impact.

At the end of an average lifetime, most folks in the developed world are responsible for producing quite a bit of waste and pollution, the problems from which many of the planet's woes can be derived. Those most concerned make efforts to reduce their personal impact throughout their lives--and now there's a way to carry that tradition on into death. One Scottish company has developed a process that quickly decomposes bodies, which may be more considerate to the environment than burying or cremation. With this technology, now your final act can be among your greenest.
The procedure, called 'resomation', works very much like the natural decaying process--though what normally takes nature decades to complete, the artificial method can do in a couple of hours inside its special chamber. What's left is a pile of ash, like after a cremation, but without all the CO2 produced from it.

"We immerse the body in a water solution of potassium hydroxide and submit it to a temperature of 180 º C," Sandy Sullivan, who helped invent the process, explains to the BBC.

This unique procedure may soon grow in popularity among the environmentally conscious, particularly when considering the negative impact of the most popular alternatives. The footprint left after the coffins, carved headstones and cemeteries plots are added up can be quite large, and cremations are little better. According to the BBC, firing up the furnace for a single cremation requires as much energy as the average house uses in week.

Sullivan believes that resomation can revolutionize the ecological impact of dealing with

the dead:
In principle, [this procedure] has the benefit of requiring no space. And compared to traditional methods of cremation, has a much smaller carbon footprint because it uses eight times less energy.

The alkaline hydrolysis process of resomation also offers one advantage over traditional methods that may not usually come to mind, while being priced comparably to cremation. Because the procedure only breaks down organic material inside the chamber, things like hip and knee implants will be left perfectly intact. Sullivan already imagines there could be some demand for recycling what's left behind. "They can be reused and benefit many people who can not access these medical treatment for lack of money," said Sullivan.

Originally, this kind of method was developed to dispose of animals infected with Mad Cow disease, though the human application has grown in popularity. According to the BBC, resomation has been approved for use in a few states in the US and parts of Canada. Currently, the Scottish Parliament is debating whether or not to allow resomation.

"Unfortunately there is no nice way to leave this world," says Sullivan, fully aware of the grim nature of his invention--but if the negative impact on the environment could be reduced by this procedure, it could be one of the nicest things you could do after you've left.

More on Green After Death
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Recycled Funeral Stationery: Remembrance Tree Papers
Further Reading on Green Funerals

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