There is already a growing concern regarding the huge expanses of land that will be required for burial space, as the world turns and more people die. Though many are opting for cremation, the vast majority are usually so grief stricken that they cannot bring themselves to entertain the thought of anything short of a lavish funeral, part of which entails having their loved ones pumped with formaldehyde to delay decomposition. Dust to dust however, is inevitable and is the reality of that outcome.
“Six foot six” below ground, as Jamaicans would say, became the norm after the bubonic plague struck in 1665 in London and the law for depth of burial was enacted to prevent any spread of the dreaded disease, but there are other reasons for underground burial as well. Though the average corpse today, is of no particular interest to medical science beyond an autopsy which looks at cause of death that may contribute to ongoing research in regenerative diseases among other issues, fossils such as skulls, teeth and bones may be in the long haul for archeologists, in their never ending study of evolution.
This method for preservation of history could also serve to substantiate studies on changing cultures and traditions that may over time become obsolete but none the less contribute in large part to past ways of life through scientific understanding.
Given the foregoing, probably the most brilliant cutting edge development to date to address this impending issue of burial space, has come out of Capsula Mundi, a company in Italy, that has created “burial pods” to replace edifices of stone or marble for memorials, which in the far distant future, may have no real bearing or meaning to anyone. Their proposed solution is using burial pods made of natural starch plastic, which will not only nurture tree-seeds as the bodies break down but would in time, transform graveyards to memorial forests. Considering that the un-embalmed body takes eight to twelve years to break down in natural soil, one can easily image the size of the trees and the beauty that these well-planned and maintained forests could be over the period, not to mention the benefits to ecology.
The process entails curling the pure body, untreated with formaldehyde and other toxins, into a fetal position and placing it with a tree seed within the sack of the bio starch plastic pod.
Besides the concern for physical space, this new method is being looked at as another eco-burial option. The fact is that “burials in the US require felling of some 30 million board feet of wood for caskets, 90,000 tons of steel, and 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid. Cremation, too, comes with its own downsides, resulting in emissions of dioxin, hydrochloric acid, and carbon dioxide, among other substances”.
It is exceedingly clear how far removed we have become from the traditional burial practices of ages past, but as evolution continues and dust to dust remains unquestionable, we are now regaining some semblance of effective traditional methods and moving at a hastened pace toward more eco-friendly and economical ways with an enhanced green conscience, in disposing of the bodies of our loved ones.