Death-care is a multibillion-dollar industry, and for the vast majority of Americans the choices are conventional burial or cremation, the environmental and financial costs of which are significant. A relatively cheaper, more ecological option for disposing of our bodies is human composting: Instead of being buried or burned when you die, your body could go to a “compost-based renewal facility.”
• An open casket means your body will first be embalmed. You will be drained of blood and injected with a cocktail of formaldehyde, methanol, and other solvents. Basically, you’re pickled. • Next, a mortician will dress you (plastic underwear may be necessary for leaky bodies) and cover you with makeup to make you look as life-like as possible. • Your body will eventually decompose, but embalming makes it take years instead of weeks.
Most crematoria are fueled by gas, and while some facilities use filters or scrubbers to reduce pollutants, cremation still results in soot, carbon monoxide, and trace metals being released. Each cremation takes 28 gallons of fuel and releases of 540 pounds of carbon dioxide. Multiply this by the number of bodies that are cremated every year in the U.S., and you have an estimate of the tons of carbon dioxide released. Because cremated remains are devoid of nutrients, your ashes cannot nourish life. You’re dust.