Would you liquefy your body? In search of the green(er) funeral

Jun 22, 2011

It isn’t yet legal in the state of California but legislation has been introduced to make Alkaline Hydrolysis, a process of liquefying tissue, a certified way for making a greener exit from this life. The process accelerates the natural decomposition process, doing decades of work in a few hours by using a strong alkali (pH 14) to dissolve tissue (the small intestine uses enzymes operating at a pH level 7-8 to digest food). It’s also reported to be only a quarter of the cost of cremation, which accounts for about 30% of burials in the U.S., 52% in California. Proponents say it’s a green alternative to traditional burial with lower operating costs than cremation because it does not cause the emissions that incineration does. Beyond the “ick” factor, opponents worry about disposing of the liquid, which can result in high pH levels in water and Catholics across the nation have raised ethical concerns. Is alkaline hydrolysis the answer for greener, cheaper funerals and should it be legalized?

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