When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

There's cremation, and there's bio-cremation

I haven't been to the crematorium in town recently but not many people have, apparently. They've been busy installing some new cremators and redesigning the place, to meet current regulations about emissions, among other things. I heard that when they re-open there'll only be one chapel, instead of two. The additional equipment needed more room. Meanwhile, the new crematorium outside town is being kept busy. They've already got a big new cremator.

I'm wondering how long it will be before these new cremators are out of date. The Scandinavians have introduced freeze-drying, so that bodies can be reduced to granules like instant coffee, then safely buried in shallow graves or even dug into your garden. And I've just found an American website promoting "biocremation" that involves what sounds like pressure-cooking bodies in water with an alkali, so that all the liquid can be drained away and all you're left with is bones. Calling it "bio" anything makes it sounds like an environmentally-friendly process, but what about energy used to heat the water, and where does the liquid end up? In comparison, green burials are low-tech, or no tech. All you do is dig a hole and plant a tree.

There will probably be even more innovative ways to dispose of bodies. There's no shortage of them, but there is a shortage of space for burial in many places and there's money to be made.

Postscript (14/1/12): A celebrant friend tells me that there's a biocremation company in Scotland. He wrote, "The second system you refer to (alkali water) is a Scottish system and very good and, in my view, much better than the Swedish promession. This is the web site  - www.resomation.com - and they have been working for years to get the UK government to agree to its use. I think it's a winner."