Monday, March 2, 2009

Are There Alternative Green Options to Burial?

It is a difficult topic to discuss as many people are nervous discussing death but just as sure as all our taxes will be due in just 2 months, the end is sure to come and there is nothing wrong with trying to make environmentally responsible choices in advance. I have heard of all kinds of green options for what we can do to create less of a negative impact after we have passed away but a couple days ago I came across something truly wild -- turning ourselves into under water reefs.

To give a bit of background I have been saying for many years that when I die I really wish there was a way I could just be tossed off the side of a boat so I could give back to the marine life that I have felt a special kinship to in this life. Also I am not really sure about being buried with my body being filled with chemicals which, as soon as the casket does break down under the Earth, will eventually seep into the soil. So when I came across Eternal Reefs I was immediately intrigued.

Admittedly, cremation is required and then the ashes are mixed into concrete. The concrete mixture is poured into a cast and then the cast is placed on the ocean floor. The website shows a reef just three months after being placed with sea life already utilizing the porous surface to sustain itself. Cool!

Casting occurs at one of the two Saratoga, Florida locations and as of now reef projects are planned for seven locations up and down the east coast of the United States and travel as far north as New Jersey. Each of the locations are planned recreation areas in permitted reef development areas. Prices start at $2,495.00 and go up to $6,495 depending on the size and number of individuals to be cast together.

An interesting eco-friendly burial option that can give something positive back to our marine friends.


High Desert Diva said...

I actually am quite smitten with this whole concept...

Marianna said...

Thank you for this post. We recently had a family member pass away and it got me thinking about what I want to happen to me when I pass. This looks like a great aternative.

Bridgete said...

That's neat.

I've been watching Six Feet Under since I never really caught the entire series when it was originally aired, so actually death and burials have been on my mind a lot I was planning on cremation anyway, this is a cool addition to that. =)

Té la mà Maria - Reus said...

very good blog, congratulations
regard from Reus Catalonia
thank you

Karen said...

Yup, it's cremation for me. Hadn't heard of the Eternal Reefs... off to check it out!

wylde otse said...

Alternative Green Burial

There are other innovative options: In Southern India, for instance...there is a sect which has for centuries set their dearly departed ones in a rocky glade (I saw a picture), to be returned to the biosphere by Gaia's own uppertakers: vultures.
But before I pre-book tickets to Mumbai (and lose many green-foot-stamps - I've read what those free air-miles really cost), I recall what the article was about; so many people were dying, that the vultures couldn't keep up.(it appears that newly imported toxic foods - higher up in the food chain - may impair reproduction; at least make the vultures haggard looking)

Clearly, cremation produces carbon gasses, even if oil burners were replaced by wood.

Dessication was apparently time-tested successfully by the Egyptians. (Perhaps vast areas of the Sahara need no longer be considered unprofitable - but how to get the bodies there? - large sailing ships? what about refrigeration?)
For those who choose dessication, fine, but pyramids probably cost more today.

To be interred: respectably carbon neutral (especially if the graves are dug by hand) and it has the advantage of providing nearby trees the were-with-all for producing, much-needed, carbon dioxide-drinking folliage.
True; we seem to be running out of space in cemeteries...and the money, to come up for these plots, should be earned in a carbon neutral way.

On the remote island where I now live, former indigenous inhabitants would lift their departed high up into trees, in sacks made of natural fibre. What
happened to them then is unclear to me; only their bones are left.

That leaves perhaps two other ways
that I can think of on the spur of the moment - to be generally acceptable to human sensitivies (and I can think of many that are not - carbon-friendly, though they may be): Burial in wilderness areas, set aside within a reasonable distance, under beautiful large trees. And finally (my favorite): burial at sea (in my favorite jacket and jeans...weighted down with rocks). I have eaten many delicious sea critters (made a living gathering them); and as much as I have enjoyed them, I hope they enjoy me. Bon apetit !

Wylde Otse

Jenn said...

Thanks for all the comments folks! I am a big fan of the reef option, but Wylde I have long wanted to do the same as you mention here - toss me off the side of a boat for the marine life to survive off of!