Most of us live our lives in a wasteful way, which deeply effects the environment around us and our planet. More and more people are concerned with their carbon output, which has lead some to look at the way we die.
The way we arrange funerals today is extremely wasteful and straight out harmful for not only the environment but also the funeral personal. Many people chose to embalm their loved ones, before they are put in the ground. What this actually means is that the jaw is wired shut and the eyes are sealed together with glue. The internal organs are punctured and drained from the body through a hole in the abdomen. Then the arteries are pumped full of formaldehyde, a carcinogen which have proven lead to increased risk of myeloid cancer in funeral personal (Hauptmann et. al, 2009). Lastly the body cavities are packed with cotton (Ortner, 2012).
In addition to that funerals are extremely experience with the casket being one of the most expensive things.
In opposition to the regular burials a new way of burying your dead is starting to gain interest among people. Green burials – or natural burials – offers a way of caring for the dead with very little environmental impact. They use non-toxic and biodegradable materials such as caskets, shrouds and urns to bury the dead in and they use non-toxic and biodegradable oils for embalming instead of formaldehyde (Green burial council).
The cemetery itself can be GBC (Green Burial Council) certified, which allows the consumers to better distinguish between cemeteries support green burials and which doesn’t. This certification includes specific rules like limitations on burial density, which protects the local ecosystem, and prohibitions against the use of monuments which will negatively impact the view.
Having a green burial may help reduce the environmental impact your death can have on the planet, but it does nothing to the chemicals already absorbed in your body.
The CDC in the U.S. says that an American individual has approximately 219 toxic pollutants in their body, which includes preservatives, pesticides and heavy metals (CDC, 2017). These toxins have the potential to make your very sick during your lifespan and with most burials these toxins will simply return to the earth in a cycle without end. This is true for green burials as well. If you are cremated the chemicals go into the atmosphere instead.
Jae Rhim Lee has come up with a solution for this. She has found that many of the mushrooms we use on our dinner plates today can actually clean environmental toxins in soil. She is training an army of mushrooms, which she calls ‘Infinity Mushrooms’, feeding them her hair, skin and nail in the process. She then picks the best feeders and has made a suit out of them.
The suit is made out of all natural and biodegradable material without any harsh chemicals. Threads infused with mushroom spores are embroidered on the suit, which will digest the body as it decomposes and neutralize many of the toxins in your body that can be harmful for the environment (Coeio.com).
This way of burying our loved ones challenges our whole mentality around death and our own mortality. The idea behind Coeio supports the philosophy behind the Decompiculture Society. The Decompiculture Society promotes intimacy and acceptance with our decomposition after our death. It seeks to advance knowledge and awareness of options in caring for the dead.
If we all learned to talk openly about our own end as individuals much could be gained not only environmentally but emotionally as well. Those left behind would be more capable of honoring the deads feelings and thoughts about their own burial.
Ortner, Pamela, MS, RN, CHPN, and Jeremy Semrau, Ph.D. 2012 Exploring Occupational and Environmental Impacts of Conventional vs. “Greener ” Funerals and Burials. University of Michigan.