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The UK now offers water cremation as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial methods, signaling a shift towards more sustainable end-of-life options.

The United Kingdom is now offering water cremation, also known as aquamation or resomation, as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial methods. This innovative approach uses a combination of water and an alkaline solution to decompose the body, leaving behind only the skeletal remains which are then ground down to a white powder and returned to the family in an urn. This service, made available by the UK's largest funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare, represents a significant shift towards more sustainable end-of-life options in response to growing environmental concerns.

Water cremation is seen as a gentler process on the body and a kinder option for the planet, utilizing significantly less energy compared to traditional fire cremation. The method, which was chosen by South African anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu for his funeral, highlights a growing demand for funeral practices that minimize environmental impact. Research commissioned by Co-op Funeralcare indicates a strong public interest in resomation, with a significant portion of the population open to choosing this method for their own funerals once aware of its benefits.

The funeral industry has traditionally been dominated by burial and fire cremation, both of which have notable environmental drawbacks. Traditional cremations are energy-intensive and produce a considerable amount of carbon emissions, while burials can lead to soil and water pollution due to the chemicals used in the embalming process. Water cremation offers a sustainable alternative, aligning with increasing public awareness and concern over ecological issues and the carbon footprint of end-of-life choices.

It’s the method that South African anti-apartheid hero Desmond TuTu chose following his death in 2021.

He wanted an eco-friendly funeral and according to UK-based firm resomation, it uses five times less energy than a fire cremation.

This method is not only limited to the UK but is also gaining traction in other parts of the world. According to Euronews, Ireland is expected to open its first water cremation facility soon, and the service is already available in countries like the US, Canada, and South Africa. Meanwhile, nations such as Belgium and the Netherlands are exploring the possibility of introducing resomation, although they face regulatory challenges.

The introduction of water cremation in the UK and its consideration in other European countries reflect a broader shift towards environmentally friendly burial alternatives. This trend underscores a collective desire to reduce the environmental impact of funeral practices and offers individuals the opportunity to choose a final resting method that aligns with their ecological values.

Eunice is a sustainability writer whose passion is sharing accessible eco-friendly practices with GreenCitizen's global readership. She enjoys birdwatching during her downtime, often deriving inspiration from nature's resilience. An enthusiastic cyclist, she is also an ardent advocate of eco-friendly transport.

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