Although cremation is decidedly one of the more eco-friendly alternatives available for your funeral arrangements, did you know that there are some processes that can be used as an alternative to cremation that may be just as eco-friendly or (debatably) even more so? Some of these processes are still in development stages while others are available for use in America today. Here are three such types: two that are available now and one that may be available within the next few years.
1. "Natural" in-ground burial
Whereas proponents of cremation tend to consider it more eco-friendly due to reduction in land use, lack of embalming, and less use of non-renewable resources, there are actually some memorial parks that make use of eco-friendly practices to confer these exact same benefits while still using an in-ground burial. These facilities, sometimes calling themselves "preserves," propound the benefits of working together in harmony with nature posthumously. The facilities can be peaceful and nature-filled, and the graveside service can be just as meaningful as at a regular cemetery, but you'll have to schedule the service within just a couple of days since they don't really provide an alternative to embalming.
Unlike natural burial, you won't find any promession facilities in the US today. This is a process developed recently that's still working on gaining traction and acceptance in the minds of the general public. The process has results similar to cremation, except that instead of ashes, the remains are actual dust. It's a surprisingly simple process that uses strong vibrations to produce this dust after first freezing the remains to cause them to be susceptible to the vibrations. The process is allegedly organic and even sounds natural, and the remains can be buried within the top layer of soil, where they will theoretically become one with the Earth, perhaps in less than a year's time.
3. Alkaline hydrolysis
Alkaline hydrolysis is sometimes referred to as "liquid cremation" or "green cremation." Proponents of alkaline hydrolysis argue that it's "greener" because it uses water to dissolve remains rather than vaporizing them into the air (which some people see as a potential pollution issue). Despite this difference, though, the process is strikingly similar. Remains are placed into a small chamber, then dissolved with water that's hot and treated to high alkalinity levels. After the remains are dissolved, the water is drained off and neutralized. What's left is an amount of ashes comparable to what's left after cremation (although there may be slightly more left after liquid cremation).
These three processes are all examples of how the state of funeral services and arrangements in America is developing. More and more green options are being brought to market, and you can select one that you feel is best in line with your principles and personality.