Is cremation the way to go ?
Cremation is the practice of disposing of a human corpse by burning. Cremation is fundamentally an industrial process. The box containing the body is incinerated at a temperature between 760 to 1150 °C (1400 to 2100 °F). During the cremation process, a large part of the body (especially the organs) and other soft tissue is vaporized and oxidized due to the heat, and the gases are discharged through the exhaust system. The entire process usually takes about two hours.
Approximately thirty percent of North Americans now choose cremation and that rate is expected to rise to more than fifty percent by 2025. According to the Cremation Association of North America, nearly twenty percent of those who choose cremation do so for environmental reasons or to help preserve land.
At first glance, cremation does seem like a more earth friendly option. Like most modem, natural-gas devices, the technology is becoming more efficient and clean burning; however the amount of non-renewable fossil fuel needed to cremate bodies in North America is equivalent to a car making 84 trips to the Moon and back… each year.
The high heat of cremation converts our body’s nutrients into air pollution.
The major emissions from crematories include: nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, mercury vapour, hydrogen fluoride, hydrogen chloride, and other heavy metals, including persistent organic pollutants. Modern crematoria do have scrubbers over the smoke stacks, but they can’t get everything. According to the United Nations, crematoria contribute 0.2% of the global emission of dioxins and furans and are considered the second largest source of airborne mercury in Europe.
For many, cremation becomes an issue of disposal rather than a deeply meaningful end-of-life ritual. The impersonal nature of a quick, low budget cremation is evident in the tens of thousands of abandoned cremains that are piling up in funeral home storage closets, basements, and utility rooms nationwide. Some funeral directors send out annual letters pleading for the next of kin to pick them up. Many return unopened.
Natural burial is a viable cremation alternative. As a celebration of life, a Natural Burial Preserve provides an environmentally-beneficial, life affirming memorial to our loved ones while actually helping preserve natural green space.