A Greener Afterlife

Folks, my idea for the ultimate green, environmentally friendly funeral has not been a roaring success. For some reason people aren’t ready yet to fire their loved ones out of a catapult into the ocean.

Scoff if you will, (hey everyone else does!) but at least I’m trying to deal with a very large elephant in a rapidly shrinking room. 

Because I know every town planner’s terrible secret: as our population grows, space in our cities cemeteries is running out, and obtaining land for future burial plots is tricky at best (basically, almost impossible).

Also, cemeteries may look green, but they’re about as environmentally friendly as a bunch of plastic flowers.  Because, as our loved ones are lazing below the turf, thousands of workers are toiling above it, mowing, weeding, poison spraying and watering their final resting places.

Now, I worked in ‘The Death Care Industry’ and learned a lot of grisly statistics… plus how to hold back the tears until I got to the gardening shed.

In particular, I found out how many bodies per acre I could bury in a normal cemetery, potentially up to 1500.  Using a patented cement lined crypt system, I could jam in another thousand per acre.

I did research natural burials and discovered they weren’t very green either; you can only bury approximately 500 bodies per acre in a bush setting, and we were still expected to mow, poison and maintain the grounds and carpark for centuries to come.

Fortunately, most of our ‘customers’ chose cremation and of those, only a third wanted their ashes to be interred in our memorial gardens or walls.  Which still requires many lifetimes of horticultural maintenance.

So, what are our options if we want a green departure.  Well, I quite like one where your remains are wrapped in a suit filled with fungi spores and your remains are quickly and quietly reduced to fungi in a bush setting. 

It may not be stylish but, trust me, you won’t care.

But I haven’t found a place within cooee of my home-town where my remains could be legally transformed into mushrooms.

So, that leaves cremation, which isn’t particularly green because of the volume of gas required to turn a body to ash.  Although, one of my co-workers jokingly suggested a giant magnifying glass could replace gas or diesel as a fuel source. 

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is currently developing a contraption to do just that in the not-too-distant future.

Anyway, once you’ve been reduced to a pile of carbon powder, you can be scattered, planted in a garden, left under a bed or transformed into jewellery or a pretty glass memento and be passed down (and remembered) for generations to come. 

Frankly, I could think of worse ways of being catapulted into eternity.

This article first appeared in the Regrow Queensland e-zine. Check it out!

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