Unpleasantness aside, both traditional methods are also environmentally damaging. According to DeathLab research, cemeteries in the United States put more than 3 million litres of toxic embalming fluid in the ground every year, some of which invariably seeps into the soil and contaminates groundwater systems. Building the caskets that (at least temporarily) contain those fluids takes 82,000 tonnes of steel, 2,500 tonnes of copper and bronze, and 71,000 cubic metres of wood annually. Cremation uses fossil fuels and releases toxic gases into the atmosphere. And, while the effluent from bio-cremation can be used as fertilizer, flame cremation renders corpses ecologically useless.
This is an article on a topic that I find interesting. It discusses the impact the funeral industry has on the environment, and the better (yet, controversial) means of disposing of dead people. I remember reading about this in Mary Roach’s book, Stiff.
One of the things mentioned in Mary Roach’s book was the Body Farm, if I remember correctly. It is part of the University of Tennessee. They place donated bodies in various conditions to study how they decompose. Morbid, perhaps, but still interesting.