Guidebook

The guide to green burial: cremation


Traditional cremation is certainly on the rise in all parts of the United States and Canada, but it is not an environmentally friendly process and it is not considered a form of green burial. Traditional cremation creates fossil fuel emissions and the ashes itself can contain toxins. However, a new green method of cremation is growing in popularity, and there are certainly a number of creative, eco-friendly ways to preserve its “creams,” as they are called.

The process called alkaline hydrolysis – also known as water resomation, bio-cremation, and flameless cremation – uses heat, lye, and water to dissolve or break down a human body into liquid and remaining bones.

Dean Fisher, who heads UCLA’s body donation program, explains that this process works with a light carbon footprint “because it catalyzes hydrogen in water to attack chemical bonds between molecules in the body more quickly.” .

Alkaline hydrolysis is usually done in a large stainless steel cylinder, with the old one-person rescue vehicle equivalent to a coffee-colored liquid that can be safely dumped down a sewer. The remaining bone fragments are powdered and returned to the family, much like a traditional cremation.

Although costs vary, alkaline hydrolysis typically costs $ 150 to $ 500 more than traditional cremation. Otherwise, it is the light green choice. For example, the Sierra Club writes: “Lower temperatures help reduce carbon emissions; emissions from alkaline hydrolysis are only 10 to 15% of those from cremation. The table below compares carbon emissions from traditional cremation to those from alkaline hydrolysis.