EFFECTS OF CREMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT
- Author Jacqueline Chadinha-Branca
- Published March 5, 2022
- Word count 966
EFFECTS OF CREMATION ON THE ENVIRONMENT
Now more than ever, we should be paying careful attention to the impact we have on the environment. This can stretch from how we manage our energy and resources in daily life all the way to how we care for our pets after they’ve passed away. Many individuals like to cremate their pets; it’s a popular option that allows the pet to stay with you in an urn or box and be placed on a mantle or in a display case as a commemoration. However, atmosphere emissions can be a problem. This is why eco-friendly options like aquamation are good choices. You can keep the remains of your pet at a greatly reduced impact on the environment. Cremation has been used for decades, so it’s no surprise that the compound effects have finally added up and taken a toll on the environment. Consider the environmental impact of cremation and aquamation if you are looking for pet afterlife services.
During the cremation process, the flames can reach more than 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The impurities from the fire are somewhat controlled in crematoriums, but they do not adequately filter everything. As a result, the smoke rises into the atmosphere and has a negative impact. The carbon dioxide emissions are also problematic – they result in nearly 7 million metric tons of emissions each year. Mercury is also emitted during cremation, although generally only from those who have fillings in their teeth. It is not nearly as widely emitted as carbon dioxide, though, and is less common during pet cremation. Additionally, it is possible for radiation that has been administered to the body, such as to those who suffered cancer and underwent chemotherapy, to have adverse effects on the environment – and on the workers who operate the crematorium.
Cities have placed limits on how long some crematoriums can run their fires and for how long. This is meant to minimize the impact on the environment as much as possible, but no matter what, noxious fumes and dangerous emissions will still get through.
The more that fire by cremation is used, the more toxic emissions are released into the environment. Over time, this contributes to air pollution, ozone damage, and more. The quality of the air we breathe is extremely important, and you can do your part to help correct the environmental impact of cremation by considering options other than cremation by fire.
Aquamation: Alternative to Cremation
While cremation by fire has long been used as the predominant way of transforming the corporeal remains of a pet, aquamation has recently become more common. It’s a water-based cremation style that essentially creates next to zero emissions from the body of the pet. This kind of flameless cremation also drastically reduces the emissions that come from the facility itself.
During aquamation, a process known as alkaline hydrolysis occurs. The body of the pet is placed in a pressurized container that contains water and potassium hydroxide. The container is heated to a little over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about six to seven times lower than the heat used in cremation by fire. The high pressurization prevents the water from boiling, though. After a few hours, the body will be broken down into its component parts of amino acids, sugars, salts, and bone remains. These remains are crushed and compacted into dust. The wastewater is then disposed of into water treatment facilities. However, the excess water can also be used as fertilizer, which is another great way to give back to the environment. If you’d be interested in growing a garden, it can be comforting knowing that additional remains from your pet helped make that a reality.
Further, the electricity needed to run the aquamation process is much lower than cremation by fire, as well. Saving power is a wise environmental move, of course. The more companies that use excess power on a grid, the more likely it is for the grid to be overloaded. Overuse can lead to rolling blackouts or forced blackouts, which are specific outages to try and control the distribution of power.
Underwater reefs are possible locations for pet remains to foster marine life. Photo by
Maksym Harbar on Unsplash.
In addition to aquamation, there are other green burials that you can consider for your pet. Some companies have created biodegradable pods that you can place your pet in that will allow both to return to earth as they break down. You can also elect to have your pet placed in a reef. This option is relatively new; an environmentally safe concrete reef can be populated with the cremated remains of your pet, and marine life will form on it. This helps the environment continue to thrive and grow, as many reefs have suffered damage due to oil spills, garbage, and water pollution.
Deciding on an Afterlife Process
Essentially, if you want to make sure that your pet returns to nature and does not have a negative impact on the environment, you can look into processes besides cremation by fire. Don’t worry – the processes still allow you to have a proper send-off, a funeral, and more. You can also retain the urn with the cremains of your pet, so there is never any doubt that your pet will stay with you after it has passed away.
Consult with your family to determine what you think is the best option. Prices for aquamation, green burials, cremation, and reef burials will vary, and you should be mindful of your finances when making a choice.
You should also do some research to see more about the environmental impact of cremation if you are hesitant about using cremation by fire as a way to retain your pet’s remains.
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