Although cremation is typically a less expensive option than a traditional burial, it's not as eco-friendly as one would think. Many crematoriums use natural gas, which contributes to the greenhouse gas problem, and toxins are released into the air when metals or plastics that are on/in the body are burned. That doesn't mean you have to take cremation completely off the table. Here is an alternative cremation option to consider that may be more environmentally friendly than fire-based cremation.
Also known as resomation or aquamation, alkaline hydrolysis uses a combination of water and lye to dissolve the body. The decedent is placed into a special high-pressure chamber that's filled with the mixture and heated to about 320 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately three hours or until everything except the skeleton has been liquefied. At the end of the process, the bones are crushed into dust and--along with the liquid ash--are placed into an urn.
This method is more eco-friendly than regular fire-based cremation because it produces less carbon dioxide and uses less energy. Additionally, potentially harmful toxins are not admitted into the air from burning plastics and metal, and the liquid remains can be disposed of in a number of ways that benefit the Earth (e.g. fertilize a garden).
Cost and Availability
At this time, alkaline hydrolysis is only available in 13 states. So if you don't live in a state where it's legal, you may have to go with an alternative burial option or ship the decedent's body to a crematorium in a state where the procedure is legal. The cost of resomation varies depending on the company and geographic location, but tends to be about the same as fire-based cremation. In Minnesota, for instance, the cost comes in around $2,395 to $4,230 depending on if you have a ceremony or not. For comparison, the average cost of fire-based cremation is $1,500 to $3,000 if you work directly with a crematorium and $2,000 to $4,000 if you work with a funeral home and funeral director.
Since the technology is somewhat new, it's best to check with any insurance policy you have that's designed to assist with funeral costs to ensure the procedure is covered.
There are many other green funeral options available such as burial directly into the soil without the use of chemicals or a casket. Speak to a funeral director who can help you decide which one is the best for your needs and preferences.
When my mom passed away, my dad and I were charged with the task of planning a funeral that everyone would love. Unfortunately, this would prove to be a difficult task, since many of my mom's relatives didn't speak English. We mulled over what to do, and we decided to meet with the funeral director for a few tips. He told us a few ideas for how to make the experience easy for everyone to understand, and we implemented his suggestions. It was incredible how much easier it made things on the day of the funeral. Read here for more funeral arrangement tips so that you aren't left stressing about more than you need to.