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Greener Funerals: new technology tries to reduce the environmental impact of cremation

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Greener funeralsThe ticking time bomb of climate change has induced new technologies to emerge that "green-ify" all aspects of our life. From biofuel, to greener washing machines, to recycled packaging, no stone has been left unturned in the hunt for a more eco-friendly existence. So what happens after our lives come to a close? Do we ignore the impact we make after we're gone? Like anything else, the funeral business must respond to demand of consumers, and this too is pointing to new greener solutions. Since the decline of land available for a traditional burial, 75% of people in the UK are now cremated. It is even on the rise in the US, where land is not so much of a problem. Cremation is no solution when climate change is factored in, however, as it produces huge amounts of carbon dioxide that is then released into the atmosphere. Not only this, it also releases other toxic gases, emerging largely from things like denture fillings. Something you probably never considered whilst in the dentist chair.

So what's the greener future in this debate between field and fire?
Apparently, there's two options; Resomation, a company based in Glasgow has developed a new technology that involves using sodium hydroxide at 180°C, reducing the whole processes carbon footprint by 94 kg of carbon dioxide per body. It is not yet approved in the UK, but is to be installed in a rest home in Florida. Another company cleverly named Cryomation, says carbon dioxide emissions are even lower if you freeze-dry the body with liquid nitrogen at -195 °C which turns the body to powder to be buried much like in cremation. It doesn't seem we have solved the whole land issue here though. Either way, it seems even after we've lived our lives as gently and greenly as possible, we can even leave this Earth with the minimal damage possible. Should this ever be legalised in the UK that is, and even if it is, I should think it will be a while before anyone be ready to commit their own remains to be the guinea pig.

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