As if dying wasn’t bad enough, it now turns out that funerals are bad for the environment. Whether you’re being conventionally buried or cremated, you’re still impacting on the world around you. However a Swedish company called Promessa Organic claims to have the greenest way to dispose of bodies – using liquid nitrogen (yes, like how the T-1000 dies at the end of Terminator 2: Judgement Day).
According to reports, conventional burial is carbon-intensive, resource-intensive, and produces significant waste. Casket manufacturers are actually on the EPA’s list of top 50 hazardous material waste producers, thanks to the toxic finishes they apply. Meanwhile, 45 million board-feet of mostly hardwood lumber are also used to make coffins. On top of that, maintenance of cemeteries requires extensive manufacturing, with the average vault using 1.6 tons of concrete. And we haven’t even begun to mention the amount of water, pesticides and weed killers used.
And if you thought cremation was more natural, think again. Depending on the facility, cremation emits nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, mercury, hydrogen fluoride (HF), hydrogen chloride (HCI), NMVOCS, other heavy metals, and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP).
Enter Promessa Organic.
The Swedish company wants to take your body, freeze it in liquid nitrogen and then shatter you into a million pieces using sound waves (this ensures you crumble into a powder). Once this is done, the powder is put into a vacuum chamber where all water within it boils instantly. This reduces the powder’s mass by 70% – this is quite a lot considering it still weights the same as a body. What is left is organic residue along with any medical devices you might have had implanted in you (such as pacemakers). These are separated out and the powder is sterilized. Your powder is then placed in a cornstarch coffin which allow the remains to turn into compost within a year and half. Simple!
“Our ecological burial reduces environmental impact on some of our most important resources; our water, air and soil,” says Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, biologist and head of Promessa Organic AB. “At the same time it provides us with deeper insights regarding the ecological cycle, and greater understanding of and respect for life on earth.”
No fossil fuels, no natural resources – just some fuss and a little muss!
Lead image © sridgway