Dust to Dust
May 14, 2008 4:25 PM   Subscribe

Buried in a beer can. As an appealing bonus, the coffin doubles as a beer cooler before it's needed for the stiff. With baby boomers getting ready to pop their clogs, many are looking to alternative ways to recycle their remains. A book and radio interview on green burials and some interesting figures on the quantities of wood, steel, copper, bronze and embalming fluid buried each year in the US in conventional funerals.
posted by binturong (22 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What's old is new again: Alkaline hydrolysis. In other worlds, dissolving in lye.
posted by Leon-arto at 4:41 PM on May 14, 2008

Favorited for the "pop their clogs" comment alone.
posted by tommasz at 4:42 PM on May 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Some relevant links in my related question on askme.
posted by davey_darling at 4:58 PM on May 14, 2008

posted by phrontist at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2008

Coffee Table Casket - Eco-friendly and living-room fabulous.
posted by ColdChef at 5:16 PM on May 14, 2008

FWIW, a few weeks ago, I buried a young man who died unexpectedly. The family was of modest means, but there was an uncle who was a cabinetmaker. In the 24 hours between when the young man died and when we buried him, his uncle built a casket for him. It was simple and plain, but the care in its construction showed that the young man was loved. There were locks on either end and a chain to hold the lid back when it was opened. He was dressed in dirty jeans and an old teeshirt, with a Lynard Skynyrd blanket wrapped around him (I swear I'm not making that up). The handles weren't great, which made it a bit awkward to carry, and it was unfinished, so the pallbearers got a few splinters, but otherwise it wasn't a bad casket.

After the service was over, I had my camera with me, so I took a few pictures of it, to show my brother, but the family asked me not to show them to anyone else, because they were embarrassed by it's simplicity. I assured them that it was far from ordinary, it was an act of love and that all the money in the world wouldn't buy something more appropriate for their loved one. I hugged his mom and assured her that she had provided for her son a dignified funeral and that he would be proud of her choice. They laughed and said that they wished they could bury him with a bottle of whiskey and I got serious and told them that would be disrespectful. They all got really quiet and I said, "He'd probably hate it if you wasted that much alcohol." And they roared laughing.

Also, this was the first funeral I've ever attended where the eulogist said, "Fuck." It was an unconventional service all around.
posted by ColdChef at 5:40 PM on May 14, 2008 [27 favorites]

I'm looking for a package where, after they take whatever might help someone else prop their sorry carcass up for a few more years, my loved ones get together, say what a swell guy I was and then dump me some place where hungry coyotes hang out.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:45 PM on May 14, 2008

...and then dump me some place where hungry coyotes hang out.

Like this?
posted by popechunk at 5:51 PM on May 14, 2008

Already done in Ghana: Beer Bottle Coffin.

The Fantasy Coffins of Ghana.

Ghana Coffins [video | 7:00].

Unique Coffins in Ghana [video | 1:56].

Previously on MeFi: Six Feet Under.
posted by ericb at 5:58 PM on May 14, 2008

ColdChef, your story is awesome. That sounds like a couple funerals I've attended - and that type has always seemed more real to me than the sober, by-the-books services. If you consider the service to be a celebration of the person's life and keep to a tone that does that, those left behind get to share in a collective grieving while remebering the good things about the person they're there to bury.

That said, I'm still down with being harvested and left out at the Body Farm. Or just left out in the woods somewhere.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 6:04 PM on May 14, 2008

all this talk of death and disposal is disheartening. I do recall that one guy of some folk singing trio that had been popular years ago got ill and, living in rural area, had his cremains dumped on compost pile. I posted very recently at my little blog a story about underwater disposals off the coast of Florida for those that loved boating etc....this was not simply dumping the body or remains but something of a cemetary with decorations (nautical) underwater. The Little Mermaid would approve, no doubt.
posted by Postroad at 6:09 PM on May 14, 2008

That's extraordinarily moving, ColdChef.

In conversations like these, thoughtful people like to say, "I don't want any fuss to happen over me. Just stick me in a cardboard box and put me in the ground. Or cremate me and dump me. I don't want a funeral." But of course, when we go, it isn't our place to decide. We describe funerals with the singular possessive of the deceased, but it isn't that person's party at all -- it's for the family that has to let go.

That's why I'm surprised, if pleased, that green burial is doing relatively well. I would be concerned that a process less showy -- or less traditionally elaborate, if you're feeling generous -- would lose out in a marketplace of the bereaved.

Personally, I want to be made into a Lifegem, set into some spooky elaborate necklace, and spend eternity as a haunted heirloom, frightening the children of kin and occasionally making appearances at costume parties. But I expect I'll be embalmed, painted and set into a heavy sealed coffin that turns me into a half-liquefied adipocere heap, underneath a tombstone professing my repose in the arms of a god I don't believe in. For that is the way of my people, the Nacirema.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:16 PM on May 14, 2008 [5 favorites]

Note to friends and family: Bury me in earth. Nothing else.
posted by loquacious at 6:19 PM on May 14, 2008

all this talk of death and disposal is disheartening.

To open this up a bit -- attitudes to death are very culturally conditioned. Ironically, in my experience, many religious people who ostensibly believe in life after death seem very fearful of dying. As an atheist and biologist I have always regarded it as one of very few certainties in the world and not worth worrying about. I also like Shakespeare's take on the topic -- actors on the stage taking their parts...but some people never want to get out of the spotlight and make room for others to strut their time on the boards, however long or short that time may be.
posted by binturong at 6:24 PM on May 14, 2008

I had to google "Nacirema". Awesome. That's going in my vocabulary.
posted by ColdChef at 6:42 PM on May 14, 2008

'They'll take you to Cloughprior and shove you in the ground,
But you'll stick your head back out and shout "We'll have another round!'"

Shane MacGowan
posted by bunglin jones at 7:00 PM on May 14, 2008

Maybe ColdChef knows this, but I've been wondering if you can legally bury someone on land you own or if you need a permit or what. Because I'd prefer to be buried (if i have to be traditionally buried) on private property where no one will go.
posted by puke & cry at 7:57 PM on May 14, 2008

if you can legally bury someone on land you own
Depends on your local ordinances. And, you probably have to get it approved by your local coroner, so they're sure there's no hanky-panky.
posted by ColdChef at 8:06 PM on May 14, 2008

This is a little country town so they probably wouldn't mind. I'll have to check on that when I'm up there.
posted by puke & cry at 8:10 PM on May 14, 2008

While I've certainly considered cremation, I wouldn't quite get the chance to inflict a surreal and fantastically grim burial service on everyone. No harps and flowers, none of this "better world now" nonsense. I'd want some in-your-face death, a brief discussion that this is all the time we get, so we'd better make something of it - maybe with "Dancing in the Dark" (Galas) playing, and finally, when they turn the little crank to lower me into the ground, I'd like it to play some variant of "Pop Goes the Weasel."

Send the kids home crying with some black licorice lollipops.
posted by adipocere at 9:34 PM on May 14, 2008

ColdChef, thanks for being on Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 AM on May 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

Awesome story, ColdChef. But I find it disheartening that we live in a nation, culture and time where simplicity and personal touches in the final disposition of a loved-one's remains is embarrassing. What you said to them regarding it being an act of love and all the money in the world not being able to buy them something more appropriate was the EXACT right thing to say. Kudos.
posted by Vavuzi at 11:23 PM on May 15, 2008

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