Earlier in 2018, Utah became the 15th state to legalize water cremation, or alkaline hydrolysis. Unlike traditional cremation, which burns human remains at 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit, water cremation uses a mixture of water and lye, along with heat and pressure, to break down the remains. Meanwhile, many cemeteries across the country now offer green burial sites—sites that ban embalming fluid and use biodegradable caskets.
As climate-conscious consumers consider their final arrangements, alternative funerals like a water cremation or a green burial are becoming more popular in the face of resource-heavy traditional funerals. John Troyer, director of the Center of Death and Society at the University of Bath, and Kartik Chandran, environmental engineer at the Death Lab at Columbia University, join Ira Flatow to look beyond the traditional funeral.