Alternative burial options are on the rise and with good reason. Alternative burial options are needed more than ever, for many they will be like a knight in shining armour come to save us.
Traditional graveyards are overflowing and plots are expensive. Whilst traditional crematoriums are pumping out more gases into already polluted cities and placing a strain on electricity supplies.
Once upon a time you had little choice in what kind of funeral you wanted. Funerals were governed by the laws of the church and our choices were dependent on how much money we had available to spend on a funeral.
Thankfully, the world is changing and so is our attitude to death and alternative burial options. Today, there are a multitude of ways to end your days or be remembered after your death, some beautiful, some bizarre but so many are environmentally friendly.
When you have spent your whole life recycling, conserving water, tending your garden and reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t it make sense to choose your final farewell and make it a green choice?
So let’s look as some alternative options. They may just inspire you to say no to a traditional send off.
We have a love affair with water, so it’s only natural that some of us want our final resting place to be in the ocean or have our ashes scattered over our favourite river. There are several ways to dispose of a loved one’s remains at sea or over water.
One way is to have the cremated remains scattered or put in a biodegradable urn and cast into the water. This can be a really beautiful send off, there’s time enough to say farewell before the urn gently disappears into the water.
Biodegradable urns are readily available especially on Etsy, Amazon and Alibaba. You can choose one that reflects your personality or that of your loved one. If you are at all creative you can even make one yourself and decorate it with your loved ones.
Burials at sea are becoming a very popular alternative burial option. However, there are many rules and regulations to comply with. You can’t just hire a boat and sale out to sea.
Coffins and caskets have to conform to strict regulations, they must be made of solid wood and they cannot contain any harmful plastics, copper or zinc and they must be weighted with sand or steel weights and have a certain number of holes in them so they sink and don’t get washed back to the shore.
You must also make sure that the body of the deceased:
The body and coffin may be inspected before the burial.
Burial at sea is a legal alternative burial option, but there are specific rules that you have to follow, such as burying the body at least 3km from the shoreline. Your local government has a list of the regulations. Private companies that offer these services can help you follow all the rules and regulations.
For UK check here
For USA check here
Scattering ashes at sea is a well established tradition and you don’t need any permission. Today you can get beautifully decorated urns ( sometimes called caskets) that look good and are specifically designed to help in the scattering process.
Watching a firework explode over the horizon or a lantern float up over the blue sea might seem like a great way to say goodbye. However, it may be illegal.
For example in the USA this type of final farewell is not allowed because there are concerns about the environmental impact of the vessel (balloon/firework/lantern) used to transport the ashes and where they will end up.
It’s best to contact your local government agency to check what is allowed in your area.
Water cremation is going to become very popular because it doesn’t pollute the air like traditional crematoriums and it uses up to 90% less energy than traditional cremations. Terry Reigner of the Mayo clinic compares it to lighting up a football stadium and lighting an office.
An alkaline solution is added to water which then breaks down the body to just leave the bones. They are very white and very clean, you could say they are angelic looking. These are then converted into a fine powder and given back to you in an urn which you can choose.
This is a very interesting short video that explains the process.
Body composting involves giving back to the earth and making a final contribution to the world. When you choose water cremation, your bones will be cleaned by an alkaline water solution. This liquid can then be used as a natural liquid fertiliser. In the same way that an organ donor gifts life and health to others, you or your loved one gives that same gift to the planet. If you feel this is a good option
An Eternal Reef is a memorial that helps the environment by restoring the ocean habitat. In the late 80’s a couple of college grads noticed how badly the coral reef was declining around their home city of Florida. The Eternal reef was their solution to the problem.
They mixed ashes with an environmentally friendly version of concrete to provide reef balls that mimic natural reefs and allow for new habitats to form. They provide a permanent memorial for someone who lived a good life.
The alternative burial option with a bang. A celebration of life, set off on your final journey towards the stars in a blaze of colour and a final salute to life.
There are now a number of companies that will create fireworks using your ashes or those of a loved one. They use a small portion of the ashes and incorporate them into fireworks. These fireworks can then be included in a public firework display or they will create a personal display for you. Prices start from £500. Individual fireworks can be purchased starting from £35
You can see more here:
What better end for any music lover than to live on or groove on in a playable vinyl record, complete with a customised sleeve. It’s definitely a unique concept. You can plan everything whilst you’re still alive – music, artwork for cover etc. They use a teaspoon of ashes per record and vinyls can be 1 or 2 sided. It takes between 3 to 5 weeks and costs between £1000 and £3000 from Andvinyl.com
Why have an urn with ashes when you can have a diamond instead. Diamonds are made from carbon which is the same substance found in humans. It can be pressed into a diamond and turned into beautiful jewellery. Always, shining, always remembered.
It takes 7 to 12 months and costs from $1000. You can choose the colour and the cut of the diamond.
Yellow diamonds are quick, easy & less expensive; Green, Red, and Black diamonds are mid range. Pink, Blue, and Colourless diamonds take the longest to grow and cost the most.
This alternative burial option is the perfect way to stay close to loved ones and to have a tangible and comforting reminder of them.
Beautifully designed jewellery is used to conceal a tiny amount of you or your loved ones ashes. A pinch of ash is hidden inside a beautifully crafted necklace, bracelet or earrings and serves as a tangible reminder of the deceased.
This alternative burial option it is definitely a lovely way to be remembered. You only need a small amount of the ashes and so the remainder could easily be teamed with other alternative burial options like a natural funeral.Review: Natural Funerals with Wicker Caskets
Natural Funerals often called Natural burials are the perfect ending for nature lovers. In natural Funerals the body is buried in the soil without any chemicals to help it decompose.
This is different from other types of burial where toxic embalming chemicals are used to stop the body from decomposing. The body can be buried in a biodegradable coffin, casket, like a wicker coffin or even a simple shroud.
The grave does not need to be very deep and it is okay if it is on private land or in any cemetery. This alternative burial option is rapidly increasing in popularity and in the UK alone there are already 100’s of Natural funeral sites.
Check out this article for further information.Review: Natural Funerals with Wicker Caskets
Jae Rhim Lee is an artist and the founder of Coeio, a company that produces an organic cotton mushroom suit that is seeded with mushroom spores.
In 2011 Lee gave a Ted talk showing off the death suit.
She explained how Mushrooms are one of nature’s wonder plants that can help us rethink how we end our days.
They are able to decompose, clean up and repurpose the human body, neutralising the harmful substances including the toxins such as drugs and pesticides and returning it back to nature.
According to the Daily Mail there is already a waiting list for this suit, so if you think you would prefer this as an alternative burial option plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
There are now so many new alternative burial options to choose from. As our attitude towards life, death & the planet continues to evolve these new alternative burial options are likely to increase in popularity as more and more people express their uniqueness in their final goodbye.
So whether you want to help planet earth, go out with a bang or sparkle for eternity you can now choose an alternative burial option that fits you perfectly — that helps you leave a final farewell in your own unique way.