Washing dead bodies down the drain – a new “green” trend?

“Soylent Green” was a 1973 science fiction film that starred Charlton Heston.  In the movie, a primary foodstuff for an overpopulated and over-polluted world is something called “soylent green,” which is a processed, wafer-like biscuit.  Toward the end of the movie, which depicts a dystopian police state, Heston discovers that the primary ingredient in soylent green is processed human corpses. While the process of dissolving and then reconstituting human bodies into edible products does not yet appear to be on the horizon in the real world, the process of dissolving human bodies into liquids and disposing of them at water treatment plants, is.

The process of placing a human corpse in a pressurized vat with potassium hydroxide and then heating the liquid until all but bones, teeth and artificial metal joints are left, is catching on as more “eco-friendly” than cremation as a method of disposing of a loved one.  People whose mission in life is to do everything in as “green” a manner as possible appear to be the primary targets of the small, but growing number of companies that offer “resomation” as an alternative to traditional burial or cremation.  The “hook” with which customers are lured in is the claim that resomation is more environmentally-friendly than cremation;  because, for example, there is less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a by-product of the process — some 573 pounds according to an article appearing recently in the “Daily Mail” in the United Kingdom. 

The term “resomation” is a made-up word apparently taken from the Greek word “resoma,” which translates roughly to “rebirth of the human body.”  The word reflects classic Orwellian double-speak, insofar as dissolving a corpse in chemicals that can then be flushed down the drain is by no stretch of the imagination a “rebirth” of anything.  (I did not even find the word in the copy of “Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary” I keep close by my writing desk.)  Still, labeling this procedure with a word known to very few outside the industry that apparently coined it, gives it a level of respectability and acceptance it likely would not enjoy were it described for what it really is. 

This process of dissolving corpses and then simply disposing of the resulting “brown-green tinted liquid” is currently being studied by the European Union Commission for approval in Scotland, Belgium, and presumably elsewhere in Europe.  Already a handfull of states in the U.S., including Florida and Minnesota, have approved the process.  According to Sandy Sullivan, described in a December 2009 New York Times article on resomation as the “managing director of Resomation, a company in Scotland that has designed a resomation machine,” the liquid resulting from a resomation is best simply “sent .  .  . to the water treatment plant.”  And, folks, this is not a science fiction movie being described and quoted here; it’s the real world.

72 comments Add your comment

Eric

July 14th, 2010
7:39 am

Sounds like a pure horror story to me. What, if any, farewell ceremony could there be? People gather to mourn and pay their respects at a funeral or scattering of ashes. With this, just gather around the sink and pour! Horror!

Sick&Tired

July 14th, 2010
8:36 am

No thanks, I’ll take cremation or burial. If we were suppose to disolve within minutes at death, I think it would have been part of the process.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

July 14th, 2010
9:03 am

Good morning all. Somehow this seems to be the logical next step in a society that regards future humans as mere lumps of flesh.

Scout

July 14th, 2010
9:11 am

Would it help my grass grow ?

It's a shame what he did to that dog

July 14th, 2010
9:20 am

“Washing dead bodies down the drain – a new “green” trend?’

Planned Parenthood has done this for years with all the babies they kill.

stranger in a strange land

July 14th, 2010
9:21 am

One could reasonably assume that the ‘environmentalism’, ‘green’ movment is morphing into a religion. All religions have doctrines/dogma requiring various tenents of faith (global warming, etc) and also contain some kind of ritual for handling the death process. This, therefore, would be a logical step.
(Hmmmph – didn’t think I’d ever be able to use the word ‘logical’ in the same paragraph as ‘green’ movement – but there you go).

Steve

July 14th, 2010
9:26 am

Can i feed it to my dog?

Barack

July 14th, 2010
9:26 am

What’s the big deal? So we set a bottle of grandpa next to grandma’s urn on the mantle.

Richard

July 14th, 2010
9:50 am

Better to use the body as a means of organ donation. Help someone that needs the spare parts. The deceased doesn’t need them anymore.

jconservative

July 14th, 2010
9:52 am

Bob read the novel “Dune”.

If I have this correct, and someone check me on this, I now have 3 options for disposal of my body after death.

1) Be buried in the ground and slowly, slowly rot.
2) Be burned and have my ashes be disposed of as I wish.
3) Be “dissolved” and have my “water” (see the “Dune” novel) disposed of as I wish.

Since I love to fish in the Alcovy River, can I have my “water” poured into my river?

Am I missing an option?

It's a shame what he did to that dog

July 14th, 2010
9:54 am

“So we set a bottle of grandpa next to grandma’s urn on the mantle.”

You’re racist white grandma?

Barack

July 14th, 2010
10:10 am

It’s a shame what he did to that Dog

No she is not of a superior race. You are obviously too ignorant to comprehend the concept being dicussed here. Go back to reading your comic book.

David Staples

July 14th, 2010
10:23 am

I don’t see anything wrong with this. If this is how someone wants their body disposed of after they’ve passed then so be it. Burial means that land can’t ever really be used again unless we tear down all the head stones and build / develop over them.

100… 200… 300 years from now… do we really want that much land in our country with such a growing population dedicated to graveyards? We have a current population of what — 330M right now? I’m not saying eliminate the burial option… if that’s what someone wants then great. As a libertarian I’m all for choice of the individual. But who’s going to pay for the upkeep of the grounds at the graveyard? Who’s going to pay the property taxes that our current politicians keep raising? Are they just going to be exempt? Is someone’s great great great great grandkids going to have to pony up a yearly fee to maintain their ancestor’s grave? Or will the graveyard just pile another 6 feet of dirt over the current grounds to create level 2?

I’d personally lean towards the cremation option but if there’s a better option when my time comes I might be interested. (After whatever organs that can be used by someone else have been taken that is…)

Davo

July 14th, 2010
10:33 am

Sorry BB, but this rates a 10 on my ’so what?’ meter.

mark

July 14th, 2010
10:35 am

neo-Carlinist

July 14th, 2010
10:57 am

Ragnar, after all is said and done, we are pretty much just lumps of flesh – ableit, with opposable thumbs and a brain stem. seems like we’re not good at much except killing each other – in many different ways, so it would stand to reason “the free market” would produce different ways to dispose of the bodies. Maybe all the “greeniachs” can earmark their corposes for the BP leak? once we have enough, we can use ‘em to plug the hole.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

July 14th, 2010
11:20 am

Dear Neo, good morning, I think we can agree that some of us believe there is something precious about human life, and others of us do not share that concern.

ButtHead

July 14th, 2010
11:41 am

How long before the bad guys make people disappear down the drain?

sam

July 14th, 2010
11:42 am

Well, I imagine if our bodies were poured down the drain we would have too many nutrients going into our waters, so that we would be over oxygenating or something, so am not sure this solves any pollution problem. There is something a little more acceptable about ashes being strewn than liquids being poured I think. Unless of course, the liquids could be bottled and sold as fertilizer. Perhaps then a good purpose could come out of this method of disposal.

It's a shame what he did to that dog

July 14th, 2010
11:45 am

“You are obviously too ignorant to comprehend the concept being dicussed here. Go back to reading your comic book.”

Spell check is your comrade, oh retarded one.

neo-Carlinist

July 14th, 2010
11:48 am

Ragnar, some believe there is something “precious” about SOME lives, but let’s not go patting ourselves on the back. and, really, being post-mortem, whatever “value” one holds in term of life, is gone, right? I know there are some who believe in an eternal soul and others who fantasize about reincaration, but once one’s soul has moved on, or occupied another corpus; what remains is just a “lump of flesh” (plus, as Bob notes, any artificial joints, which should probably be recycled anyway – you see, titanium has a “value” as well).

Barack

July 14th, 2010
11:53 am

Spell check is your comrade, oh retarded one.

What is spell check? A liberal crutch for you? Be careful, your unemployment benefits are running out.

david wayne osedach

July 14th, 2010
11:55 am

I personally will stick with cremation!

Yuki

July 14th, 2010
12:01 pm

Look, I love how everyone here is talking about how precious human life is and all that. This also rates a 10 on my “So What” meter. Let’s not forget that once your soul leaves your body (if you believe in such a thing), what’s left behind on the Material Plane is just A HUNK OF DEAD MEAT. It’s no longer a person by that point. So hey, if they want to go all Dune-ish wish my body and return my “water” to the earth or sea, that’s perfectly OK with me. Not only that, but shouldn’t that be MY choice?

And I just read the last comment before the box by neo-Carlinist. Well… that kind of makes my point a bit rhetorical. But hey. I like saying things twice.

Logical Dude

July 14th, 2010
12:06 pm

“sent to the water treatment plant” = “flushed down the drain”
Kinda like all those dead pet fish/frogs/etc

Logical Dude

July 14th, 2010
12:15 pm

Ragnar said:
I think we can agree that some of us believe there is something precious about human life, and others of us do not share that concern.
I agree with this. However, the issue is about human death, and disposal of something no longer living. What is the difference between discarded fingernails, or hair that is cut, and a corpse? Just how long it will turn back into dust.

It's a shame what he did to that dog

July 14th, 2010
12:39 pm

“What is spell check? A liberal crutch for you? Be careful, your unemployment benefits are running out.”

Not on unemployment. But hey, your days in office ARE running out.

David S

July 14th, 2010
12:50 pm

Already our waste and water treatment plants are overburdened with the billions of tons of pharmaceutical metabolites and waste that come out of our overmedicated society now. These treatment plants are unequipped to clean up all of this material and cleanse these chemical toxins from the water before it is dumped into rivers and streams. The solid matter too remains unpurified and it is dumped onto farmland where it contaminates crops and leaches into underground aquifers that are supposed to provide “safe” drinking water.

The process of cremation returns the body to its elemental form. Many religions believe this is necessary to release the soul and other body energies so that they can be set free of this material/manifest world. Potassium Hydroxide dissolution and boiling certainly don’t achieve this result. Buy why would anyone expect the folks in the environmental movement to respect anyone’s religion. They are too busy praying at the alter of mother nature and reject all beliefs to the contrary.

CO2 is a byproduct of all metabolic processes. Ultimately of course most of these folks would just assume all life on the planet cease so their objection to everything that produces CO2 is only natural.

I suspect that if they even bothered to investigate the true environmental harm this method of disposal will do to water systems around the world, they might actually rethink their support. But maybe investigation and careful consideration are beyond their abilities.

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 14th, 2010
12:53 pm

If they really want a “green” solution, they should just be drug out into the woods and let the possums, buzzards, etc., do their thing.

Ingy

July 14th, 2010
12:54 pm

This frightens me. We really need to get back in touch with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know some of you don’t believe, but open your hearts, because it’s the only way to be saved.

Curious George

July 14th, 2010
1:34 pm

Did anyone actually read the “ObamaCare” bill to see whether this was in there before they actually voted FOR it?

Barack

July 14th, 2010
1:35 pm

Not on unemployment. But hey, your days in office ARE running out.

PRAISE GOD!!! But the country will already be ruined by then. Whatever will a drone like you do?

Mrs. Norris

July 14th, 2010
2:05 pm

This can’t be good. The irony is, there are laws stating a body must be embalmed so that bodily fluids will not leach into the ground water, and subsequently our water supply. With this method the whole body, along with the potassium hydroxide in this morbid concoction, will be dumped directly into the water supply.

I think a good option is to donate your body to science. They will donate your organs to people who need them and they will pay for burial or cremation of whatever is left of the body when they are finished. There is also a place for the study of forensic science. They place bodies in woods and fields and leave them there to study various stages of decomposition in different situations, such as weather. This is true. I know a lot of people wouldn’t like to think of their body lying around a field, being subject to scavengers and such but I kind of like this idea. It is the most natural and I would become one with nature again, dust to dust.

Mrs. Norris

July 14th, 2010
2:13 pm

I would also like to say until environmentalist start touting what would really help our planet more than anything, ie: birth control, then I’ll turn them a deaf ear.

stranger in a strange land

July 14th, 2010
3:11 pm

Mrs Norris – you’ll just have to join the 1st Green Church of the Enlightened Environmentalist and then if you will just have faith and try hard to believe – your eyes will be opened and you’ll know how right they are.
(Pope Al asked me to convey this message to you via this medium which he so graciously invented for us)

YanquiX

July 14th, 2010
3:22 pm

Little wonder Gen. Colin Powell declined to be POTUS. There is no need to D&C or govern girly mens a.k.a., good ole’ “boyz” .

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 14th, 2010
3:39 pm

Georgia doesn’t require embalming and if I’m not mistaken, most other states don’t either.

N.Ga. Nut Lover

July 14th, 2010
3:43 pm

Grand Daddy has been an alcoholic for 50 years. I say we liquify him and pour ‘Ol Pap into whiskey bottles. We’ll keep Grand Dad in the cellar in case of a tight.

LeeH1

July 14th, 2010
3:55 pm

If I have this correct, and someone check me on this, I now have 3 options for disposal of my body after death.

1) Be buried in the ground and slowly, slowly rot.
2) Be burned and have my ashes be disposed of as I wish.
3) Be “dissolved” and have my “water” (see the “Dune” novel) disposed of as I wish.

Since I love to fish in the Alcovy River, can I have my “water” poured into my river?

Am I missing an option?
****

Yes. Another option is to be cremated, then have your ashes turned into pure carbon diamonds, which your loved ones can wear as jewelry, or put on picture frames, church ornaments, etc.

See: http://www.lifegem.com/

For those with no character in life, there is carat-ture in the after life!

And many people who are a waste of space in the living world, will become something precious after death. ;-)

Surrounded by idiots

July 14th, 2010
4:10 pm

OK, the water is put in treatment facility not the supply system. Good God READ the entire column before assuming anything. Are you aware the water you watch go down the toilet one day is flowing out of your shower head another day? Because it’s been treated! Obtuse is the only word I hear when I read some of these posts.

Arlo

July 14th, 2010
4:11 pm

Leaching into ground water? This gives new meaning to having a drink with a friend!

anonymous coward

July 14th, 2010
4:32 pm

Nowhere does any of the information in this article or in searching around for more information do I see that this is an “emvironmental” movement, or a “green” movement. This is a marketing term used by a new industry to promote themselves.

David S. – are you for real, or just a troll?

David S

July 14th, 2010
4:34 pm

“Treated” is not the same as purified. Water treatment facilities take care of the solids and the bacteria (mostly with high doses of chlorine). They do not perform reverse osmosis or heavy carbon filtration or any other true treatment that would remove the pollutants that are ending up in the waste stream because of all the man-made drugs everyone is taking. Since many compounds just build up in the tissues and never leave, this method of disposal will put those compounds not altered by the corrosive bath (and do we have any idea what those compounds might now be??) directly into the rivers and lakes, etc. where all “treated” water goes.

You are not surrounded by idiots. You are just ignorant of the process by which “treated” water makes its way back into the fresh drinking water system and you are ignorant of what “treatment” really is, and you are far too trusting of your government and their monopoly over both the “treatment” of waste water and the testing of waste waste and drinking water.

Do a Google search on “pharmaceuticals in drinking water” and see what you get. You will see that this method of “disposal” will certainly not help that situation.

N-GA

July 14th, 2010
4:35 pm

David Staples – I wanted to post on this topic, but I read your post and realized I couldn’t say anything better than you already did. Thanks!

N-GA

July 14th, 2010
4:37 pm

LeeH1 – You do have another option. They can launch your ashes into space……REALLY!

David S

July 14th, 2010
4:42 pm

I am neither – anonymous coward (how fitting a name). I am someone who knows better than to trust the government when it comes to water safety and environmental safety. I used to live in an area with hundreds of nearby dairy farms. The animal waste was so heavy on these farms that the “nitrates” would leach down through the soil and contaminate the underground aquifers that we used for drinking water. The water cooperative that I belonged to needed several “clean” wells to dilute the contaminated water down to what the state considered to be “acceptable” levels. We were never asked what was acceptable and the dairies were allowed to pollute the environment and the water with state authorized impunity. Just how much cow sh*t do you find acceptable in your drinking water?

Well you don’t get to decide how much pollution you are ok with. The government decides for you and allows companies and cattle folks and pig farmers and the like to violate property and water rights with their blessing.

If you think that someone who is concerned about the levels of pollution that are pouring into our drinking water is a troll, then so be it.

Troglodyke

July 14th, 2010
4:56 pm

This frightens me. We really need to get back in touch with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know some of you don’t believe, but open your hearts, because it’s the only way to be saved.

Can someone with an ounce of sense please tell me how this comment has any bearing on this post? Why does every blog on this site always have people injecting religion into issues that have nothing to do with it? It’s just not an AJC blog until someone cites Scripture, or rails against abortion and/or gay people. Give it a rest.

When you are dead, you are dead. If you do believe in a soul, it’s long gone by the time your body is disposed of.

Burial is an outdated practice that wastes land and makes millions for the funeral industry. The only way burial would make any sense at all is if we did away with embalming, caskets, and vaults, and the body went straight in the dirt. Then at least it could nourish the soil.

Take my usable organs and tissues, and then light me up and let me go.

stranger in a strange land

July 14th, 2010
5:34 pm

Trog…not sure religion needs to be inserted in every blog either, however, in this case environmentalism ain’t so far from a religion itself (couple of my earlier posts today for what it’s worth)

It's a shame what he did to that dog

July 14th, 2010
5:54 pm

“Why does every blog on this site always have people injecting religion into issues that have nothing to do with it?”

Maybe because left wing retards always trash talk Christians… Yep, that might have something to do with it, Dyke.

“Burial is an outdated practice that wastes land and makes millions for the funeral industry.”

So you’re a commie?

“Take my usable organs and tissues, and then light me up and let me go.”

No, please keep your organs to yourself. Thanks

stranger in a strange land

July 14th, 2010
6:17 pm

It’s a shame….uh, not that you were actually trying to convert troglodyke anyway, but I don’t think that’s an approach that’s likely to work .