Could Dead Bodies Save the World’s Coral Reefs?

Long after you’re dead, your remains can do sea life some good.
(Photo: Eternal Reefs)
Jul 1, 2013· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

So-called green burial options are a dime a dozen, stretching from rather mundane green graveyards all the way up the ascending curve of crazy to body-eating mushroom death suits.

Thing is, most of these options only go so far—which is up to the point of preventing bad stuff from entering the topsoil (a net neutral, if you will). What they don't do is take the next step of actually doing the natural world some good (a net positive, if you still will).

Enter Eternal Reef.

The idea is fairly straightforward. After death, the cremated remains of you or your loved one are merged with a concrete mix that is used to constitute the reef ball. While said cement is still wet, the reef ball can be personalized with etched messages. (I recommend: "Everyone Serves a Porpoise.")

Mother Nature Network picks up the process from there:

On the dedication day, a boat is chartered for friends and family to observe the reef ball as it is placed in the reef where it will become an established habitat. The fish, turtles and other forms of sea life are happy—and there’s one less urn of ashes to get lost in the attic.

By forgoing a traditional ground burial, you or your loved one would not be using a casket, which are often made from mined metals, toxic plastic, or endangered wood. (U.S. cemeteries use 30 million feet of hardwoods and 180,544,000 pounds of steel annually.)

That's the good. The bad is that Eternal Reef still relies wholly on cremation, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is a process that releases up to 216 toxic pollutants into our ever-warming atmosphere.

So, while sleeping with the fishes might not be your cup of afterlife tea, you could have it worse off. You could be turned into a bullet.