07/09/2010 02:23 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Do You Want to Be a Rhododendron After You Die?

What do you want to do with your body after you die?

I've always been fascinated with mummies - its incredible to see how the pharaohs have been preserved for thousands of years. You can literally see their facial features. And the treasures that were buried with them are such a testament to the richness of the times. However, being mummified really hasn't been practical for hundreds of years.

In college, I used to love visiting cemetaries. Reading each tombstone - with a name, date and description of a person - always fueled my imagination of different places, times and experiences. But space again is becoming an issue, and the embalming process has chemical and environmental issues. This article that I read yesterday, Embalming Might Keep You Looking Fresh at Your Funeral, But Do You Know What It Does to the Environment?, inspired me to write this blog. It asks the question do we really need to disinfected, preserved, cosmeticized and deodorized after death. Fascinating to think about - we are dead after all.

We are living in a time where sustainability - even after death - is critical. Is there a term for that - eco dying?

In my tradition, Hinduism, we are cremated. I have always assumed I would be cremated and my remains would be spread in a body of water. To me that seems so peaceful and releasing. The problem is cremation releases a lot of greenhouse gases, and alas is not environmentally friendly.

There is also the Zoroastrian tradition of leaving the bodies in the open - or in silent towers - and letting the vultures and crows eat them until they are gone. Again - not really practical in today's modern world.

So, last month during a great, very witty presentation by Margaret Atwood at Idea City in Toronto (you can see it here), I heard about a fascinating new technology developed by a Swedish company for disposing of our dead bodies - Promessa. Per this article in the BBC,

"Their method involves freeze-drying the corpse in liquid nitrogen. Sound vibrations then shatter the brittle remains into a powder that can be "returned to the ecological cycle"."


Mallika Chopra is the founder of, a site focused on personal, social and global wellness.

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