The method behind ecological burial is crystal-clear, easy to grasp and accept. It is based on a new combination of tried-and-tested techniques that prepare the corpse for a natural process of decomposition. The procedure is justifiable in terms of ethical, moral, environmental and technical considerations, and does not subject the body to violent or destructive handling.
“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,” explains Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, biologist and head of operations at Promessa Organic AB.
An important part of the solution is to remove that which is least important; the water that makes up 70 percent of a normal-sized body. Technically speaking, this is done using an entirely closed individual process in which the corpse is freeze-dried in liquid nitrogen.
Read more about nitrogen
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 now dry powder then passes through a metal separator where any surgical spare parts and mercury are removed. In a similar way, the powder can be disinfected if required.
The remains are now ready to be laid in a coffin made of corn starch. There is no hurry with the burial itself. The organic powder, which is hygienic and odorless, does not decompose when kept dry. The burial takes place in a shallow grave in living soil that turns the coffin and its contents into compost in about 6-12 months time. In conjunction with the burial and in accordance with the wishes of the deceased or next of kin, a bush or tree can be planted above the coffin.
The compost formed can then be taken up by the plant, which can instill greater insight in and respect for the ecological cycle, of which every living thing is a part. The plant stands as a symbol of the person, and we understand where the body went.
“Our ecological burial reduces environmental impact on some of our most important resources; our water, air and soil,” says Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, biologist and head of Promessa Organic AB.
“At the same time it provides us with deeper insights regarding the ecological cycle, and greater understanding of and respect for life on earth.”