Just to warn everyone, this possibly a very morbid post. After our debate this past week, what struck me the most was the idea that some of the greatest sources of waste are those that we do not even consider. When researching “necessary” vs. “unnecessary” waste, one thing I noticed was that the existence of graves is actually a major environmental intrusion.
We tend to picture cemeteries as serene landscapes with the gravestones themselves as the only human intrusion into an otherwise beautiful place. Families often treasure the experience of being able to visit the site where past generations have been buried. Unfortunately, however, when we look beneath the surface, cemeteries not quite as pristine.
Throughout history and even today, cemeteries have required that graves include a casing or lining for the grave itself. These casings are generally made from concrete and can include materials such as plastic, steel, or copper. This structure is designed to prevent the ground from caving in as the coffin decomposes, however, the result is a structure that is not meant to be part of the environment and which will not biodegrade easily. And this is not even including the materials that individuals are buried with such as jewelry, glasses, etc. For me, this is really sad irony. My grandpa passed away about a year ago and was buried in a traditional way. However, he really enjoyed nature and spent most of his retirement working with groups to restore unused railroad tracks to bike trails. I think he would be upset to realize how his grave would impact the surrounding environment.
One company has developed an interesting solution to this dilemma, known as Bios Urns. Bios Urns are a lot like typical urns which contain an individual’s ashes and are buried in a chosen area. These urns however, are described as biodegradable and contain a tree seed and a prepared soil mixture to assist in growth. As a result, an individual is essentially able to use their body to grow a tree while preventing construction of another grave-site.
I love the idea of using Bios Urns as an alternative to traditional burial. There are many faiths where cremation is not acceptable, however, many do allow it. If even half of the individuals in our generation chose options such as Bios Urn, we could make a significant impact on our environment.
Bios Urn Website: https://urnabios.com/urn/