Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Green To The Death!


A slightly morbid topic today, but have you ever wondered what you could to to help reduce the environmental impact of your death? I read this article about an environmental alternative to cremation. According to the article, an average cremation can produce as much as 400Kg of Carbon Dioxide. This so-called green alternative (called Resomation) uses an alkaline hydrolosis system which requires only 10% of the natural gas used in a normal cremation to reduce the human body to a extremely unpleasant sounding 'brown syrup'.

My main concern is that in order for this procedure to work, potassium hydroxide must be used to dissolve the tissue. I've spoken to one of my colleagues at EMERGE, who knows a lot more about chemistry than me and he says that the method used to manufacture Potassium Hydroxide is electrolysis, a hideously inefficient method which not only uses a considerable amount of electricity but also produces a significant amount of unpleasant chemical by-products. So before we even think about the waste outputs of resomation, the process already has a significant environmental footprint from the energy utilised.

After the resomation process has occured, the lovely syrup together with residual potassium hydroxide waste are then simply be poured down the drain according to the process information! Unless we are 100% certain that the potassium hydroxide has been fully neutralised, I'm not clear that we should encourage its disposal direct into our water systems. I can't imagine this is a responsible way to dispose of potentially hazardous chemical waste let alone any heavy metals potentially present from the liquidised body!

I'm all for progressive thinking and technological solutions and funerals are no less problematic than other areas of life - but perhaps there are simpler ways to go about it, for instance cardboard coffins and green burials.

Onwards & upwards!



1 comment:

  1. And don't forget to allow your body parts to be reused before putting them in for woodland recycling - make sure everyone knows you want to donate your organs and they're on board with the idea so there aren't any squabbles at an already difficult time.

    -louisa :)

    Recycle This