The issues of biodegradable body bags, vulture restaurants and bonemeal crossed up during a walk around the ‘dog field’ with fellow, ageing, dog walkers. The dogs were playing and sniffing, we were walking, and talking, as usual. The subject of writing wills came up.
Wills led to instructions we had left regarding the disposal of our mortal remains. Initially, the consensus seemed to be about simple funerals, cheap coffins and cremation. No one liked the idea of expensive – last forever – coffins. (I have simplified disposal instruction. It used to say cremation and ashes sprinkled in the sea at a ‘special to me’ place on the Wild Coast (Mpande). Now it just says “in the sea”!
In the discussion, I raised an article I had read about being buried in biodegradable body bags. Good idea, I said. (Turns out that there are cardboard coffins as well). The worms would quickly recycle us into compost – minimal pollution and no energy wasted in heating the ovens to the point where they could reduce our bodies to grit.
Cemeteries are overflowing
But an important objection was raised: the world is running out of burial space. How about burying people vertically instead of horizontally, I asked?. This would take up maybe a quarter of the space. But the space problem remained!
Taking a giant leap, I suggested, laying out our bodies at vulture restaurants (yes they do exist, according to Wikipedia, in Nepal, India, Cambodia, South Africa, Swaziland and Namibia.) In addition, I suggested our bones should be ground up into bone meal to assist with tree growth.
I am not sure I buy the idea of becoming vulture food, but it is food for thought. We badly need to get vultures off the endangered species lists, as they and other carrion feeders will be much needed once our pathetic response to climate change is exposed by major changes.
Another alternative is to leave our bodies to a medical school, for students to cut up. My friend Margaret Amber did. I thought that was quite brave!
To the stars, and beyond?
The doggie walk ended before we could consider being shot off to Mars, or the stars. Apparently, Gene Roddenberry, the author of Star Trek, is one of many who have been sent into Space already, as well as James Doohan, famous for his role as Scotty, in the television series of Star Trek.
I think our consensus was this thought should perhaps be left to the next generation to consider, if they are still around.