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Funerals




Not sure if it would be helpful but from years ago I remember a book, I
think was titled, The American Way of Dying, or something close to that.  If
it can be located, I believe it addresses more of a historical view of why
things are done the way they are as well as what is done, relative to death
and burials (or were done...this book may date back to the 70s).  Please let
me know if you would locate this book...I think I would also want to check
it out.

Recently there was a discussion on P2tech about cremation and air emissions
from body bags.  You may access this info through the archives.

Opinions follow...proceed at own risk!
Personally, I can't see many re-use or recycling options for bodies without
significant chemical processing...not to mention larger hurtles in the way
religions and society thinks.  Organ donation (harvesting) would appear to
be one of the most direct forms of "re-use or recycling" when possible (not
prohibited due to disease or age of the organs).  (One might think organ
harvesting could even put a more positive swing on the death penalty for
criminals but that's another social hurtle to overcome.)

Composting (as we typically think of it) should not be an option.  "Modified
composting techniques" may be possible if parallel methods, similar to
traditional composting, are applied but this takes us back to basic chemical
processing.

Use as an animal feed may be possible but the social aspects very poor.  In
beef processing waste is rendered to produce bone meal and
tallow...ingredients in numerous products.  (It's funny, a local beef
processor observed "the only things we do not use from a cow are the moo and
the tail...and we could use the tail if we really wanted", but with humans
it seems we do everything we can to take matters the opposite direction.)  A
similar process may be possible with bodies BUT would you want many of the
products you use daily to contain products derived from human bodies?
Again, the social aspects play a significant role.  [As an example of just
how large the social barrier is, USDA and beef processors can't even get
past the social aspects of using "radiation" to reduce pathogens, like
e-coli, in food products.  Radiation is extremely safe, would reduce
production costs, wastes, and product liability, and would increase public
safety.]  Also, the processing activities tend to create other wastes,
especially wastewater, which may simply increase and extend the problem to
other media.

Cremation seems to tackle both religious and social issues.  Could we
develop microwave cremation?  How about a freeze-drying process to remove
the water and allow easier separation of the chemical constituents (we could
even use the recovered water to process the residue)?  Sure we can provided
it becomes economical and the recovered materials can blend into mainstream
uses very indirectly.  Genetic engineering could be used to make people half
as large...just think of the reduced environmental impact from that.

Ric