You are probably wondering what does death have to do with waste. A dead person should actually be completely zero waste, since he/she doesn't consume anymore, right? Well, the surveys say something quite different.
So, what is so wasteful about burying dead people? Tons of wood and raw materials are used during funeral services. Cremation does save space on cemeteries, but it uses a lot of energy and results in a good amount of emissions. Human bodies themselves can release some harmful substances such as residues of chemotherapeutics. As a reaction to all this there are more and more burial alternatives. Some are based on the return to nature, some appear rather sci-fi.
The possibility of having your ashes added to soil with a tree seedling might seem appealing to some people, because this way our body gives a new life to something green and its life goes on. Nevertheless, in this case there's still the issue of cremation and all its negatives.
A completely different thing is an innovation called the "burial suit." It is a special, biodegradable suit filled with mushrooms fibers, which allow for a faster merging with nature. Moreover, these mushrooms can absorb the toxic substances from the corpse. Btw, the American actor Luke Perry, who died this March, used this suit.
There are even more possibilities of eco-friendly burials, especially in the US. There, you can get buried in a sarcophagus from recycled paper (Ecopod), on the bottom of the ocean as a reef ball, in a coffin from bamboo sticks, undergo a cryocremation by frosting yourself and getting crushed or to get liquidised into a liquid fertilizer. The last two options seem a bit less romantic, but they have a very low ecological impact.
In Czechia, the variety is much smaller. We can choose either between classical cremation (used by some 80% of the deceased) or a burial in a coffin. However, we can make ecological choices even in these two cases: there are biodegradable urns available, not-polished coffins without any decoration or even cardboard ones. It's good to use clothes from natural materials and preferably no shoes.
By the trees' roots
A nice example to end with is the Czech initiative "Ke kořenům" (meaning by the roots). The sadness from the sterility and lack of personalisation of the standard burials led three young Czechs to create a different, more natural way of saying goodbye to our beloved ones. On their website kekorenum.cz, they offer you laying your ashes next to the trees' roots in the Forest of memories. Apart from other services such as eco-friendly urns or sustainably grown flowers, the girls can help you to overcome the sorrow or advise how to organize a meaningful burying ritual.