- Ask if the crematorium has scrubbers on their stacks. Federal environmental laws do not regulate crematoriums. The death care industry made a fuss saying that human cremains should not be labeled as waste and therefore could not be held under the laws that regulated incineration. I can see why someone would not want to label humans as waste, but surely they could have created a term so that cremation could be more environmentally friendly. Locally, crematoriums might have scrubbers on their stacks, so ask the question. Always ask any question you need to make you feel secure in your decisions about end of life care.
- Mind what you wear to the crematorium. Make sure the body is in biodegradable clothing or shroud. Make sure all medical devices are removed. Make sure the body is not wrapped in plastic. Whatever the body has on when it comes to the crematorium goes up in the flames along with the body and into the atmosphere.
- Don’t keep the cremains in an urn produced by non-environmental means. This means not granite from china or elaborately manufactured urns. There are plenty of beautiful urns created locally and using sustainable means. It would be great if someone you know could make the urn. I know of some people who have done just that.
- Scatter the cremains. Don’t use an urn at all and return the cremains to the earth through scattering. Scattering could be just pouring the cremains into the ground. Some cemeteries allow this or you could do so on your own property. You could also mix the cremains with mulch and other organic material and plant a tree or make a garden. Cremains are inert and cannot nourish plants. All the organic material in our bodies that can nourish the earth is destroyed in the process of cremation.
Cremation does provide for less negative impact on the earth than does a full conventional burial. If you are concerned about the earth and the impact our living and dying has on the earth, please consider these things when choosing cremation.