The ecosystem and our planet’s future are currently facing a crisis due to climate change. However, even at your life’s end, you can still positively impact the environment. You can do this by choosing an eco-friendly end-of-life service. While traditional burial and cremation continue to be the main farewell options, the latter has become a preferred choice for many. It’s only natural to wonder whether cremation is environmentally friendly compared to traditional burials.
The Environmental Impacts of Traditional Funeral Services
While cremation services have become popular, some people still opt for traditional funeral services. Unfortunately, even though funerals offer your loved one a dignified send-off, their impacts on the environment are alarming.
- The embalming process releases harmful toxins. Embalming is a preservation process that requires liquids such as methanol, glycerin, and formaldehyde. When buried these substances get released into the soil. These elements not only contaminate the land ecosystem but can also end up contaminating waterways.
- Traditional funerals are not resource-efficient. According to a UC Berkley journal, traditional funerals used about 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete, 30 million board feet of hardwoods, and 104,272 tons of steel every year.
- Traditional burials take up a lot of land. More than a million acres of land in the US are set aside for cemeteries. Such sites require upkeep, which involves using chemical fertilizers, water, and pesticides, making these areas unsuitable for some plants and wildlife.
Is Cremation Environmentally Friendly?
Two types of cremation services exist, namely, traditional cremation and bio cremation. You are probably familiar with the former. Traditional cremation involves the use of intense heat to reduce the deceased body to ashes. While this process emits carbon dioxide, its carbon footprint is lower than traditional funeral services.
The second cremation process, i.e., bio cremation, is the environmentally friendly one. It is also referred to as resomation, alkaline hydrolysis or green cremation. This eco-friendly process involves placing the deceased in a chamber containing potassium hydroxide and water. The body remains in the solution for several hours, where it dissolves, leaving cremated remains—what you know as ashes. This process retains about 30% more bone fragments compared to the first cremation process.
Additionally, green cremation requires approximately 1/8th of the energy needed in traditional cremation.
Typically, alkaline hydrolysis involves:
- Wrapping the deceased in natural fabric such as wool before placing it inside the resomation unit.
- Filling the machine with 80 gallons of water and potassium hydroxide at a 95% and 5% ratio, respectively.
- The solution is heated to dissolve the body
What Happens to the Resomation Liquid?
Other than the cremated remains, the cremation process also leaves a resomation liquid. This liquid has a dark brown color and an ammonia smell. While it has an “icky factor”, this liquid is harmless and sterile. Once collected, the crematorium transfers it to a local water treatment facility for recycling.
Is Bio-Cremation Legal in Every State?
As of 2020, twenty states, including California and Florida, had legalized alkaline hydrolysis. Part of the reason for the reluctance is misinformation and religious hesitancy. Remember, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the church accepted traditional cremation.
Why You Should Choose Bio-Cremation
- Green cremation does not emit carbon dioxide. Alkaline hydrolysis does not rely on fossil fuels. Therefore, it does not emit any harmful gases. There’s also no risk of water and soil contamination since there’s no embalming. It’s very similar to a natural burial which also skips preservatives’ use.
- Bio-cremation uses fewer resources. Traditional funerals account for over 100,000 graveyards in the US. You can only imagine how much land these sites occupy. Remember, each site has a casket and a headstone which also means a lot of wood, concrete and metal was used. In comparison, cremated remains get stored in a cremation urn or keepsakes that do not use up much space. Also, unlike caskets, urns don’t require special transportation—they’re very resource-efficient.
- Bio-cremation allows for recycling. The resomation liquid left after cremation does not go to waste. Instead, it goes to a treatment plant and then it’s released to lakes and other water bodies.
- Green cremation is fast. Traditional funerals require purchasing grave plots, caskets, digging the burial site, among others.
- The entire cremation process is cost-effective. Cremation requires fewer resources, steps, and time to make it affordable for you and your loved ones.
Eco-Friendly Cremation Services in Clearwater
Cremation services are an ideal option for you or any loved one who wants to reduce their carbon footprint in death. Forms of cremation are environmentally friendly because they do not emit carbon dioxide or release toxic substances into the ground. Want to learn more about cremation services? Reach out to Florida Family Cremations at (727) 223-5911 today to schedule a free consultation.