Best Way to Offset the Carbon Emissions of Your Cremation
You might be dedicated to recycling and using alternative energy and in every respect lead a blameless, eco-friendly life but did you know your death is capable of generating about 300 kg of CO2? That's assuming you get cremated, which is the popular thing to do. Just as unsound is the fact that your coffin could well be made of plywood from illegally logged trees, according to Yukihiro Masuda, project manager of Tri-Wall KK, a Tokyo-based packaging-materials company. His team has therefore come up with a green alternative a coffin made from strong, three-layered cardboard produced from sustainable trees and held together with natural, starch-based glue. The 15-kg coffin has the look and feel of its wooden counterpart, supports a 200-kg body and requires half the energy for combustion compared to an ordinary coffin, resulting in just a third of the hazardous gas emissions. For each coffin purchased, Tri-Wall KK plants 10 trees in a national reserve in Mongolia. Masuda calculates that in 20 years those trees will have absorbed about 60% of the CO2 from a typical funeral.
Not all Japanese are taken with a cardboard coffin. Midori Kotani of the Daiichi Life Research Institute says that people "will most likely go for [traditional wood coffins] over paper-made." Still, Tri-Wall KK's sales 2,000 green coffins were shipped in 2007 are slowly increasing. "We receive calls from environmentally conscious people who say they'd like one for themselves," Masuda says. "It has become a lifestyle choice." In a society where 99.8% of the dead are cremated, there's plenty of room for growth, at any rate.
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