‘Tis the season for the creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky — it’s Hallowe’en! Back in civilization, I used to love handing candy out to the neighbourhood kids; I think this year we’re going to have to be satisfied with dressing up the dogs.
But underneath the costumes and the sugar rushes, Hallowe’en has another purpose: it lets us confront scary and uncanny things in a healthy and fun way. In line with this theme was our look at the controversy around “space” burial. I’ve kept looking into the macabre nexus of death and tech, and, in the spirit of Hallowe’en, offer a look into a fascinating innovation just around the corner in Smiths Falls, ON.
A funeral company there is offering “green cremations” in the form of alkaline hydrolysis: instead of burning human remains, AquaGreen Dispositions dissolves them in a mix of potassium hydroxide and water, and then drains the result into the municipal wastewater system. For [60% water] thou art, and unto [water] shalt thou return!
“The computerized Aquagreen Dispositions system takes less than two hours to dissolve most organic material.
Once the cycle is complete, the caustic fluid from the pressure vessel passes through two filters and on into the municipal sewer system, leaving only the skeleton behind.
Those bones, soft and wet from the alkaline hydrolysis process, are then dried in a convection oven, pressed into a fine white powder and finally returned to the loved one’s family to be scattered.”
Unlike standard burial, which leaches embalming chemicals into the earth; or traditional cremation, which involves burning of natural gas or propane, and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere alkaline hydrolysis purports to be “entirely green.” This is great news for consumers — and also the folks in the town’s wastewater treatment, who have been keeping an eye on the flow from AquaGreen’s facility and have given it a thorough thumbs-up for safety!
So this Hallowe’en, while I’m at home eating tiny chocolate bars and unsuccessfully trying to attach a Superman cape to Samson, I’ll be sparing a thought for the travellers to the undiscovered country, who are taking an unusual route via Smiths Falls.