>So, what are the Economist editors trying to convey here? Why are they acting so concerned and all? From an August 6th editorial:
Using corpses for greenery may be a step too far
AS COPENHAGEN gears up to host the UN climate-change jamboree in December, Denmark is keen to parade its green credentials. They include grants for energy-saving home improvements such as triple-glazing, solar energy and insulation. Business is pitching in with seminars and sustainability reports. Even job ads bear a green tinge. And consumers are paying for such green goodies as organic vegetables or loft-cladding.
But in one area, greenery might be taken to excess. Denmark’s crematorium association has revealed its profitable sideline in recycling metal parts salvaged from the dead. Burnt bodies leave knee or hip replacements that can be recycled as scrap metal, says Allan Vest, the association’s chairman. Since 2006 the country’s 31 crematoriums have earned DKr 77,762 ($15,000) from 4,810kg of salvaged metal sold to a Dutch recycler.
The article then goes on to discuss a suggestion by a British environmentalist that we use grave plots to grow vegetables (an interesting sort of victory garden!) instead of flowers and shrubs, hence the title. He has a point there; cemeteries, especially in the US, are acres and acres of virtually unused lawn.
But back to the recycling bit, which seems to make the editors cringe. Think for just a moment, please, about that cremation. You may have, afterward, metal from artificial joints. If you don’t recycle them, what will you do with them? Throw them in the garbage? How is that any more respectful to the dead or to the world, for that matter? The article also takes issue that the deceased’s family will not be informed. Why? No one is going to want to take Grandpa’s hip home and put it on the mantel.