As society becomes more environmentally conscious, people seek gentle burial options for the body and the planet. Two options that are gaining popularity are water cremation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis and green or natural burials. Any funeral home can offer these options, but some may not be familiar with them.
Water cremation uses water, alkaline chemicals, heat, and sometimes pressure and agitation to accelerate decomposition. It uses 75-90% less energy than flame cremation and emits no harmful greenhouse gases or mercury. The process takes 8-16 hours and requires 250 gallons of water. The remaining bones are pulverized and returned to the family for burial or final disposition, and medical appliances are retrieved for recycling. The leftover water solution can be used as fertilizer or sent to a wastewater treatment plant.
Natural burial involves:
- Wrapping the deceased in natural cloth.
- Placing them in a biodegradable container.
- Burying them in a designated natural cemetery.
Embalming is not required, and caskets and vaults are not necessary. Green burials are available at several local cemeteries, including Historic Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence, KS, which has the first municipally-owned cemetery to have a natural section. Other options include Mount Muncie Cemetery in Lansing, Highland Cemetery of Prairie Village, and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. Green Acres, near Columbia, MO, is the closest natural burial option on the Missouri side.
Recompose (T), the patent-pending human composting procedure recently legalized in Washington, is another emerging green burial option. Open funeral pyres, which involve the open-flame cremation of human bodies, have been proposed, but Governor Mike Parson vetoed the bill citing inadequate oversight. The “Jedi” funeral bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Missouri General Assembly.