5 Alternative Burial Options to Consider

The days of the traditional casket burial are dwindling. While still practiced, of course, many more people are choosing alternative burial methods. Cremation is by far the most popular option, because of its lower cost and smaller ecological footprint, among many other reasons. But that isn’t good enough for a growing number of the population. For many people, choosing alternative burial options is a matter of protecting the environment. Traditional burial can have a large carbon footprint and can cost thousands of dollars. However, there are several other ways to process a human body, and in this article, we’ll be discussing five of them. You can have your body composted, be buried in a mushroom suit, freeze-dry your remains, have your body turned into beautiful unique stones, or be reborn as a tree.

Alternative Burial Options

1. Human composting

Human composting is a natural organic reduction process that allows a body to literally return to the earth. This process was developed by the company Recompose. The process involves placing a body into an enclosure that uses warm air and organic materials like wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. This allows microbes and other microorganisms to transform the body into compost. The enclosures are eight feet long steel cylinders set into a frame. All unnatural materials like metal fillings, pacemakers, and artificial joints are removed before the body is composted. This process only takes 30 days to decompose an entire body, including its bones. 

2. Mushroom suit burial

If you’ve never heard about a mushroom suit burial don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. It is a relatively new process that is still gaining recognition and popularity. Mushroom suits are a biodegradable way to bury your body. A mushroom suit is far more ecologically friendly and bypasses all of the waste of cremation and soil damage of a traditional burial. And, an added bonus—these suits are also much more affordable than a regular burial, which can run into the thousands of dollars. 

What is a mushroom suit? Made out of organic cotton clothes, a mushroom suit has mushroom spores sewn directly into the fabric. This allows a body to be buried directly in the ground where it will be broken down by the mushrooms as they grow. Not only does this process take away the waste products of traditional cremation, but they also neutralize toxins in the human body and turn them into enzymes. In short, this means that your body won’t hurt any plant life around the burial site or contaminate any water supplies. 

Traditional burial caskets are coated with harmful chemical preservatives. After they are buried, they slowly decompose while leaching toxins into the soil. This toxic leakage can lead to long-term damage to the earth surrounding traditional burial plots. On a similar note, cremation takes place at very high temperatures, which requires a lot of energy to be used. Crematoriums also release a lot of smoke into the air, including many toxins like carbon monoxide and mercury from dental fillings. Given the environmental impact of traditional burials and cremation, many people are turning to alternative ideas like mushroom suits as ways to protect the environment.

3. Freeze-dried cremation

There is a new way of cremating bodies, known as freeze-dried cremation or promession. This process takes place in a machine built for the process. The corpse is placed in the machine which then uses liquid nitrogen to “freeze-dry” the body. Liquid nitrogen rapidly freezes anything it comes into contact with at a temperature of negative two hundred degrees Celsius. This rapid freezing process changes the internal properties of the body and evaporates all of the water found in the body. The organic material that is left is very brittle, and it is then shaken into dust. This dust is then freeze-dried a second time in the particle drying chamber, which leaves about 30% of the original weight. Any metals in the body, such as tooth fillings or artificial joints are removed either with magnets or a sieve. These are all returned to the family. If the body is being buried, the dry powder is placed into a biodegradable casket which is then buried in the top layers of soil, which allows for bacterial decomposition. This process will take 6-12 months. 

Promession was invented by a Swedish biologist whose name is Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak. Wiigh-Mäsak was driven to invent promession after learning about the damage done to soil by traditional casket burials. She also wanted to create a process that is more cost-effective and better for the environment than regular cremation. This innovative system prepares a body for burial or an urn in a way that mimics the way nature would have decomposed the body. After the organic remains are buried, they will be fully integrated with the soil, which means all of the carbon contained in your body goes back into the earth and not the atmosphere. And, there is the added benefit that the organic remains will turn into useful fertilizer for any plants close by. 

4. Growing a tree from ashes

Create a living memorial to your deceased beloved by using their cremated ashes to grow a beautiful tree. By growing a tree from their ashes, you are creating a living memorial that may soothe you for years to come. A tree will live on, the way your memories of your loved one live on in your heart. The Living Urn’s BioUrn and planting system are complex in their design but very easy to use. The Living Urn spent years working with soil scientists and arborists to develop their advanced tree urn and planting system. This ensures that you will successfully grow a healthy, beautiful tree. The Living Urn knows that growing trees from seed can be very difficult, and would likely be daunting to the average person. So they designed their system to work with young trees to ensure that each of their memory trees grows successfully. 

Even if you aren’t a gardener or have a black thumb, the Living Urn’s planting system makes the process of turning your loved one’s ashes into a tree simple and straightforward. Place your loved one’s cremated remains into the BioUrn and add the Living Urn’s proprietary RootProtect additive on top. Next, lower the roots of your young tree into the BioUrn, and add the premium growth mix. Now you plant the urn in the ground. Mulch and water your tree well. The Living Urn has resources available to you as you start caring for your memory tree. There are helpful articles about tree care on their blog. You can also reach one of their expert arborists on the phone at (800) 495-7022 extension 0. They are ready and willing to answer any of your questions about taking care of your memory tree. 

What if you don’t live somewhere where you can plant a tree? There are places called memory forests across the country where you can plant your tree. A memory forest is a beautiful, tranquil resting place for your loved one and their memory tree. There it will be cared for and live in the presence of other memory trees, thriving for generations to come. 

5. Turn ashes into stones

If the idea of having ashes in your home makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you would like a more tangible reminder of your beloved who has passed on, consider turning their ashes into stones. This is similar to the death beads of South Korea, where they take the ashes from cremation and turn them into beautiful, colorful glass beads that can be proudly displayed in their homes. The Parting Stone is a similar process that uses the ashes from cremation and turns them into beautiful stones. Each person’s stones will vary naturally in shape, color, and texture, making each collection of solidified remains uniquely beautiful. These stones could be put on display in a lovely dish or jar, or even added to a garden. These stones will add depth and warmth wherever you place them. Parting Stones can be used for pets as well. 

Stunning and Ecologically Friendly Urns from the Living Urn

The Living Urn is dedicated to helping their valued customers honor and remember their loved ones who have passed on with quality urns, while also protecting the environment. Their products are designed to be beautiful, eco-friendly, functional, and affordable. Their patented BioUrn for planting trees is made from recycled plant materials and is produced by only wetting and drying with heat and pressure. This means no toxic glues, no chemicals, and no high-energy machinery, which means that this process has a very small carbon footprint. 

In addition to their BioUrn for growing a memory tree from your loved one's ashes, the Living Urn also has a variety of other urns. They have scattering urns, burial urns, and indoor urns. Their indoor urns include two planter urns that allow you to display ashes underneath a beautiful, indoor plant. Whatever your urn needs are, the Living Urn is here to help you honor, remember and heal.