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  • Green burial less expensive, more environment-friendly
  • March 17, 2014
  • AN UNCOMMON DEATH: Bizarre Burial Options

    Death is typically not an upbeat subject, but today, there are a number of ways to memorialize your life that deviate from the traditional. Here are a few “alternative” funeral options you may not know about.

    Freeze-dried: Ashes to ashes, dust to mulch? Considered to be a more “ecologically friendly” approach to burial, this is when the body is freeze-dried in liquid oxygen at -18 Celsius and crushed into a fine powder. The “organic powder” is placed in a cornstarch coffin where the soil converts it to compost. Varying companies provide this service.

    Swimming with the fishes: Thinking about a burial at sea? If so, it’s comforting to know that your cremated remains can be put to rest at the Neptune Memorial Reef Project in Miami. The 16-acre memorial is the home of 125,000 cremated remains. Prices for an underwater placement range from $2,000 to $5,000 in the Atlantis-like memorial. The prime spot is dead center of the reef, which brings in higher burial costs. Mourners can watch the placement of remains from a glass-bottom boat.

    Baubles, bangles and beads: Ever wanted to wear the dearly departed around your finger or your neck in the form of a nice pear-shaped diamond cut? Your loved one can be with you for all eternity by having their cremated parts set into a diamond or any gem of your choice. The diamond can be mounted into rings, pendants and earrings. Diamonds consist of 100 grams of cremated ashes and can be cut to match whichever carat size your beating heart desires. So far, there are a handful of firms that provide this service, but most are in the United Kingdom.

    Dead space: You can also launch your loved ones remains into outer space for the cost of $6 million per kilogram. Houston, Texas-based Celestis charters lunar mission modules that spread cremated remains among the stars. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was one of the more famous names who had his cremated remains shot into orbit.

    Ever been called a firecracker? You can actually take it literally this time. For your final five minutes of fame, Heavens Above Fireworks in the United Kingdom will attach your ashes to a rocket as part of a spectacular fireworks display for all to see. For an additional cost, the company will spell out your name in the night sky or leave your loved ones with a personalized farewell message.

    Work of art: Talk about avant-garde! An artist will memorialize your life by mixing your ashes into a painting for a starting cost of $899 per piece.

    As a writing utensil? In the event you don’t feel useful in the afterlife… A British designer will convert your ashes into pencil leads and engrave your name in the foil on the side.

    Cryonics: Often used as humorous fodder in cartoons, cryonics is very real. There are currently two companies the Cryonic Institute and Alcor who provide cryonic facilities for 200 people who are hoping to cheat the afterlife and live again in a fully preserved state. Cryonics involves freezing your body at 120 degrees Celsius to prepare you for an expected thawing at some point in the future. There are a number of “cryonic” services that come with hefty fees, but the average cost starts at $150,000.

    The ultimate tree-hugger package: Far too technical to discuss here, scientists can mix and mingle your DNA with that of a plant for a mere £20,000. Most people opt to be a tree. Biopresence began as a student project at the Royal College of Arts in London.

    As fluid as water: Aquamation or liquefying a body is the process of returning your remains back to its natural watery state. The human body is about 70 percent water.  Once the remains dissolve into water, the water can be used as a fertilizer for plants and flowers. The concept is the same as cremation without the use of an incinerator, but rather the remains are put into a water capsule for liquification. This burial is considered more environmentally friendly than traditional burials.

    To learn more about the average costs of funerals in the United States, go the the National Funeral Directors Association statistic report.

    Pages: 1 2

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8 Responses

  • George Frankel says:

    Eternal Reefs is the only cremation memorial that encourages family members and friends to participate with the creation of their loved ones memorial reef. The entire Eternal Reefs process is designed to be a positive experience that will help to heal both the sea and the soul. With more than 6400 Facebook fans, Eternal Reefs make a permanent contribution to the marine environment and to future generations. When families see the growth and life that these memorials create there is a real sense of personal accomplishment and contribution. Visit us at
    Thanks, George

  • Brigid Blaschak says:

    Great coverage of multiple green options! To clarify a point further, this “aquafication” (aka BIO Cremation) doesn’t use just water. It uses the alkaline hydrolysis process, a combination of water, heat and potassium hydroxide to break down the body to its basic building blocks. What’s left is a sterile effluent of salts, sugars, peptides & amino acids and “bone ash” just like as in traditional flame cremation. The only difference is that the ash is white instead of grey and there’s about 15% more of it. This process has a quarter of the carbon footprint, releases no mercury emissions and uses about 1/8th of the energy needed for flame cremation. For someone who wants their final carbon footprint to be a small one, it’s a great option. The first commercially available unit in the USA will be installed soon at Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home in St. Petersburg, FL.

  • Jim Walsh says:

    What a great idea!

    Until very recently, I thought I wanted a permanent stone marker in a traditional cemetery. However, as the Center For Outdoor Ethics, Leave No Trace program says: “Leaving your mark on the world is overrated.”

    The mark I would like to leave should be minimal and I have always believed that sustainability is most important.

    If everybody alive today were to be buried in a traditional permanent grave, there would not be enough cemetery real estate on the planet to support it.

  • Sharon Kuritzky says:

    Orthodox Jewish burials have always been without embalming, the body wrapped in a linen or cotton shroud and (outside of Israel) placed in a pine box, box placed in the ground without a vault. Seems like we were ahead of the crowd!

  • Erskien Lenier says:

    I’d rather wander off into the wilderness and just lean up against a tree and go on…. No need for even a cemetary and all that stupid profiteering over death.

  • gabriel says:

    I want the Viking funeral, wrapped in a shroud. loaded on a straw floating craft, loaded with highly flammable accelerants like more straw, and have an archer, send a flaming arrow arching towards the boat and then the whole thing sinking into the sea.

    Is that green?

  • gabriel says:


    If everybody alive today were buried, there would be a lot of people screaming undergound.

  • Roxanna says:

    I’m not sure why but this blog is loading extremely slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on myy end?
    I’ll check back later aand seee if the problem still exists.

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