Grist reports on greening your funeral:
As the sole species responsible for filling the oceans with plastic, pumping the atmosphere full of pollution, clear cutting the world’s forests, and bringing about what could be the sixth great mass extinction, it’s perhaps fitting that when we die, we turn our own corpses into toxic flesh bags that ensure ecological damage for years and years to come. It’s as if someone dared us to come up with the most environmentally harmful burial practices imaginable, and we dutifully complied, stopping just short of strapping vials of radioactive waste to our chests on our way to the grave.
For all its verdant landscaping, the typical cemetery functions less like a bucolic resting ground for the dead than a landfill for the materials that infuse and encase them. Over time, the typical ten-acre swatch of cemetery ground, for example, contains enough coffin wood to construct more than 40 houses, nearly 1,000 tons of casket steel and another twenty thousand tons of vault concrete. Add to that a volume of toxic formalin nearly sufficient to fill a small backyard swimming pool and untold gallons of pesticide and weed killer used to keep the cemetery grounds preternaturally green.
Plus, draining a body of blood, vacuuming out its abdominal fluids, filling it back up with preservatives, then leaving it to stew in its own juices is just gross — something that would truly horrify a person living in the early 19th century, before the Civil War made it fashionable to preserve bodies with formaldehyde so they’d make it home to ma and pa.
Even today, more and more people are starting to question this bizarre tradition. A national survey of 1,238 adults conducted last year by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council found that 64 percent were interested in more environmentally friendly “green funerals” — up from 43 percent in 2010.
Read the rest here.