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5 ways to have a green burial

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When you depart, the last thing that should be weighing on your loved one’s minds is the environmental impact of your death. Unfortunately, the truth is that traditional funerals and burials are anything but eco-friendly, which is why pre-planning is necessary.

To make your final footprint a little lighter, here are six alternatives to turn your burial green.

Natural burial grounds

Both embalming and cremation place a high burden on the environment. In addition to the amount of land space needed to bury caskets, it’s estimated that in every cemetery acre, there are 4,500 litres of formaldehyde-based embalming fluid and 56,000 feet of tropical hardwood hidden under the ground’s surface.

However, there are a handful of natural burial grounds available in Canada, including Royal Oak Burial Park (Victoria, BC), Union Cemetery (Cobourg, ON), Meadowvale Cemetery (Brampton, ON), and Duffin Meadows (Pickering, ON).

At these sites, bodies are allowed to decompose naturally. Instead of being embalmed, they are placed in a biodegradable casket or shroud, before being buried in a natural setting. Absent of grave markets, these memorial sites provide a tranquil setting for your loved ones to visit in memoriam.

Eco-friendly headstones

Making green burial choices isn’t just limited to your remains—it also means examining all the elements of your memorial or funeral service. As an example, guests may be encouraged to carpool, donate to an environmental organization in your memory, or to choose indigenous flowers over tropical or silk ones.

Another option is to bypass a concrete or marble headstone altogether. Instead, have your ashes spread at the cottage and a bird feeder installed in your memory.

Burial pods

Although it’s only a prototype, Capsula Mundi is an option that commemorates life while creating new life.

Designed in Italy, these fully biodegrable burial pods are made of all-natural materials. After you pass away, your ashes or body are placed within the pod’s captivity, which then nourishes a memorial tree that’s planted above the surface.

Alkaline Hydrolysis

Instead of using fire, this unique method uses a water and alkali-based method to liquefy your soft body tissues. The result is a sterile product that can actually be flushed down the drain.

While meeting roughly the same end as the family goldfish might not sound all that appealing, there are countless environmental benefits. Allegedly, the process—which is also known as Resomation—produces one-third less greenhouse gas emissions than cremation, use one-seventh of the energy, and results in no mercury emissions. It’s also similar to the process that would happen in a casket over a period of 20 years, except condensed to a period of two hours.

Currently, alkaline hydrolysis is available and legal in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec.

Promession

Over 20 years ago, Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak was partially inspired by her passion for gardening to create Promession, another environmentally friendly alternative to cremation.

Through this method, bodies are essentially freeze-dried with liquid nitrogen before being vibrated into small pieces. The remains are then buried in a biodegrable corn starch container, where they decompose further, eventually becoming nutrient-rich soil. Unfortunately, the method is not yet available in Canada, but it may be in the future.

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