One reason to have a zero wasted funeral is directly related to the ever-increasing world population. Traditional burials take up a lot of space and many countries from England to India are experiencing a shortage of burial grounds. According to the BBC, a 2013 survey indicated nearly half of England's cemeteries could run out of space within the next 20 years. This includes cemetery spaces that have been recycled and reused with families buried one
on top of the other.
Another good reason to support a zero waste funeral is that there is a tremendous amount of waste buried with people. Formaldehyde which is extremely toxic and used in the embalming process produces over 800,000 gallons of waste per year in burial sites alone.Typically, ten acres of a cemetery contains nearly 1,000 tons of casket steel, 20,000 tons of concrete in burial vaults, and enough wood used in coffins to build 40 homes.
Cremation is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to burial. While cremation is less stressful to the environment, it creates toxic air pollutants. As the New World Encyclopedia reports:
There exists a body of research that indicates cremation has a significant impact on the environment. Major emissions from crematories include nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, and other heavy metals. . .
The soil and air pollution caused by these wasteful practices are harmful to the environment and ultimately to people. Zero waste funerals help prepare for the future while honoring and respecting the individual who has died.
A Pine Casket
One idea that might not seem as strange to those of us new to the concept of a zero waste funeral is simply to bury your loved one in a pine box-just the box leaving the body unembalmed. This may be simple but not necessarily easy. To bury an unembalmed body one must move fast as the body decays rapidly and with that decay can cause health hazards. Pre-planning a burial without embalming will eliminate this concern. Willwerscheid also can help you purchase a pine burial casket during the pre-planning process.
A Tree Urn
There are many companies that offer tree urns to use for the remains. A portion of the cremated remains are placed in a biodegradable container, additional conditioned soil is added and a tree seed is planted within the container. The tree is then planted and becomes a living memorial to your loved one. The ability to pick the type of tree can be very meaningful. Adding the beginning of new life into the burial ceremony can bring great peace to many.
Eco-pods are an alternative way to bury a loved one. A body is placed into a biodegradable pod in the fetal position. These pods are then buried and with natural decomposing, the body becomes part of the soil. The pods are buried under the seed of the deceased one’s favorite tree or shrub, thus creating a memorial plant. Some envision memorial forests growing where burial grounds have stood in the past.
A Reef Ball
A reef ball is another way to hold a zero waste funeral. Here a portion or all of the cremated remains of the deceased are added to a ph balanced concrete mixture to create a “pearl”. Once the pearl is ready concrete layers are added to the top of the pearl. Personal memorials can be impressed into the concrete such as handprints, sea shells, or stones. Finally, the reef ball is added to a reef designated for reef balls. The reef ball itself will help restore the environment and become a living memorial to your loved one.
A Mushroom Shroud
Burying your loved one in a mushroom shroud or a mushroom burial suit is another way to eliminate waste and help the environment. Mushroom burial suits and shrouds are made with mushrooms and microorganisms. These help the body to decompose and neutralize any toxins from the body.
Some of the companies providing these services offer to plant additional trees as part of the memorial process. You may want to consider looking for these companies as you will add even more life to the planet by choosing them.
Choosing to provide a zero waste or green funeral is a viable decision and should be discussed during any pre-planning done by you and your loved ones. If no pre-planning has happened, the choice to decide how to honor your loved ones with a living memorial funeral is yours. Willwerscheid can help make your final decisions in an eco-friendly and stressless environment. Call or email us today to start a conversation.