Reducing your Carbon Footprint in the Afterlife with Water Cremation

Water Cremation is a process first adopted by medical institutions for their body donation and research programs and is now gaining traction in the funeral industry.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Water Cremation is a process first adopted by medical institutions for their body donation and research programs and is now gaining traction in the funeral industry. Image: Be a Tree Cremaiton

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Reducing your carbon footprint in the afterlife with Water Cremation

Death was introduced to my life at a young age when I lost my mother to suicide. Decades down the road, I found myself working in the corporate offices of a “traditional” funeral company. I learned so much that wasn’t common knowledge during that time, but one thing, in particular, struck my heart. I remember finding out that caskets and urns are buried in concrete vaults, taking decades or centuries to break down and return to the earth fully. I felt cheated that my mother’s body wasn’t at one with nature in the cemetery I would often visit. This haunted me until I discovered water cremation, and everything changed.  

Water Cremation, or alkaline hydrolysis, is a process first adopted by medical institutions for their body donation and research programs and is now gaining traction in the funeral industry. Using highly alkaline water and gentle heat, it mimics natural decomposition inside a special steel vessel over several hours. The remaining water can be returned to the earth and is nourishing for the soil, supporting surrounding life. Skeletal remains are dried, pulverized, and returned as “ashes” that can be transformed into stones, scattered in nature, or even planted with a tree. 

Following my heart, I created Be a Tree Cremation, and we’ve helped over 300 people live on through nature with water cremation, and hundreds more have planned for their own nature-centric end-of-life experience. We are a woman-owned and operated business that is disrupting the death landscape and redefining what it means to die in Colorado.

The funeral industry is one more way humans are damaging the planet and impacting the climate without realizing it. Fire cremation emits over 360,000 metric tons of C02 in the US annually, with each cremation the equivalent of driving 600 miles. That doesn’t include the other harmful chemicals, like Mercury, that are released into the atmosphere from dental fillings. Burial uses, on average, 20 million feet of wood, 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluids, and 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete annually. Water Cremation uses 90% less energy than fire cremation, with zero direct emissions or smoke from the facility. 

Families are choosing Water Cremation for a variety of reasons, ranging from environmental benefits to a fear of being burned or buried.

Summer Downs Planting Memorial Tree Reducing your Carbon Footprint in the Afterlife with Water Cremation
Summer Downs Planting a Memorial Tree. Image: Be a Tree Cremation

“My father had always told me he wanted to be cremated when he died. When I heard about water cremation and all the benefits to the environment and that the cost was pretty comparable, my father was very happy with this type of cremation. He wanted to be nurturing to the environment instead of polluting it once he died.”

-Aubrey B

Every team member at Be a Tree Cremation is passionate about educating and empowering people about death and dying. We believe that knowing your choices is critical. The biggest obstacle we face is letting people know this eco-centric alternative of Water Cremation is available. So we ask you to help spread the word by having these difficult but important conversations with people around you.

“Our goal is to create a softer landing around the topic of death and dying but not shy away from it. Our emphasis is to educate and empower people around their end of life options, & build community while being stewards of Mother Nature. To help people prepare for their end-of-life experience and confidently have us advocate and care for them when they are no longer here to advocate for themselves, to me, there is no higher honour.”

-Sherèe Browne- Director of Pre Need and Chief Community Officer

Learn more about Water Cremation and how Be a Tree Cremation is changing the death care landscape. 

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2 comments

  1. Would like information about cost. My friend was cremated here. I like the process, care that was given.

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