Dying Green: A New Eco-Friendly Funeral?

Biocremation could make green a way of life and death

By Jessica Greene
|  Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010  |  Updated 12:30 PM PDT
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It's a dead man's party no longer for a funeral home employee accused of setting up a meth lab.

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Being good to the environment is not just a way of life, it's a way of death. And, for the eco-friendly who wish to go out in a blaze of green, there could soon be a new alternative to biodegradable caskets and harsh chemicals like formaldehyde.

California state Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, has introduced a bill that would add a process to the list of legally approved ways for mortuaries to perform cremations.

The process, technically known as alkaline hydrolysis, uses water heated to 300 degrees, potassium hydroxide and turbulence to speed up the decomposition process and dissolve body tissue in a few hours. When it's over, all that remains of the remains is a pile of white bones that can be ground up into something that looks like ashes.

The liquid left behind is environmentally safe, sterile and can be washed down the drain. Feeling a little grossed out yet? Consider this in the circle of life -- the liquid is also said to safe enough to water plants.

The Department of Anatomy already uses alkaline hydrolysis on their human cadavers donated for research and funeral homes in Europe have been discarding of bodies with the biocremation process for years, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

Miller expects his bill will have no problems getting through the Legislature. We can't say the same thing for the squeamish who read this story.

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