Sure, your life is pretty green. You bike to work, recycle, and use energy-saver light bulbs. But what about after you are done all that living? How can you turn your green lifestyle into a green deathstyle?
Two words: liquid nitrogen. A sweedish company, called Promessa Organic Burial says they’ve discovered the greenest possible way to bury your loved ones: freeze them in liquid nitrogen and then use sonic waves to shatter their body, a la T-1000 in Terminator 2.
Within a week and a half after death, the corpse is frozen to minus 18 degrees Celsius and then submerged in liquid nitrogen. This makes the body very brittle, and vibration of a specific amplitude transforms it into an organic powder that is then introduced into a vacuum chamber where the water is evaporated away.
The powdered, dehydrated remains of your body are then packaged neatly into a small cornstarch box and buried to rot away and be reabsorbed into the earth within 12 months.
As biologist and Promessa’s head of operations Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak puts it on the website:
“The method is based upon preserving the body in a biological form after death, while avoiding harmful embalming fluid. Then it can be returned to the ecological cycle in a dignified manner as a valuable contribution to the living earth.”
Once your body has been reduced to a dried-out powder and buried in a shallow grave, a tree or shrub can be planted on the spot. The plant will suck many of the remaining nutrients out of your decomposing remains and, as Wiigh-Mäsak says on the website:
“It provides us with deeper insights regarding the ecological cycle, and greater understanding of and respect for life on earth.”
You might not think that disposing of dead bodies would be environmentally harmful—dying does decrease the population, after all—but embalming fluids are dangerous for the earth;large shiny metal or wood coffins are wasteful; and even cremation, which uses the same amount of energy as driving almost 5,000 miles, releases mercury into the atmosphere.