BY: CAROLINE ROLF
It’s never too early to start thinking about our death. If you practice the traditional Tibetan sky burial in which the deceased are carried to a remote location in the mountains where the body is left for vultures to devour, you’re set. If you’re more comfortable entering the afterworld in a pine box, you might want to reconsider.
Modern burials are a nightmare for the planet. The process of preservation emits toxic chemicals into our air and soil. Coffins use tons of materials, not to mention the acres of land dedicated to housing these burial vaults use significant amount of water and pesticides to maintain the lawns. Cremation isn’t any better. The process releases a number of concerning chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, into the atmosphere. The ashes are sterile, so even when your widowed husband is scattering your remains in the river, saying a prayer through his few remaining teeth, you’re still not supplying any nutrients to the earth. So what, then, is the most environmentally friendly way to die?
This compost-based renewal system aims to fold the departed back into the communities where they once lived and celebrate the potential to create new life. Founder, Katrina Spade, envisions a body becoming rich soil compost that will allow us to take our place in the natural world. At the centre of this project is a three-story core; within which the body is placed to decompose with high-carbon materials. The proposed project could be a solution to the overcrowding of cemeteries in cities and offer a more sustainable method of laying our loved ones to rest.
When your life reaches the end of side 1, this service will turn that record over and have it spinning for eternity. Your ashes are pressed into a vinyl record for your family to put your personal message or soundtrack on repeat.
If you’re passionate about marine life or never checked scuba diving off your bucket list, consider having your body recycled into a life-supporting reef. By mixing your ashes with eco-friendly cement and burying your Eternal Reef at sea, you can heal your lover’s soul and the sea for at least 500 years.
The Italian design company Capsula Mundi envisions a different approach to the design of coffins: burial pods. The egg-shaped pod is made of biodegradable material that will hold the departed in a fetal position. The pod will then be buried or rather, planted as a seed in the earth. As the body breaks down, the decomposing seed will nourish the tree planted above it, serving as a memorial and a contribution to the prosperity of our planet. Just think, the dejected cemeteries we see today could be transformed into vibrant woodlands if this concept becomes a reality.
Conventional burial methods account for more than 30 million board-feet of hardwood and 90,000 tons of steel that are used in coffins annually in North America. Over 750,000 gallons of formaldehyde-laden embalming fluid is used and the price of burial plots has skyrocketed to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Such toxic practices are disrespectful to our earth and our bodies. It is time to question these rituals and consider a more responsible way to be buried.
If all else fails you can always donate yourself to the BODIES Exhibition or good ol’ science.