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Biodegradable Monument

For the Eco-Friendly Corpse.
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(+6, -1)
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There are approximately 6 billion people alive today. In all odds, within roughly 120 years or so, virtually all of them will have died. While this is tragic and inevitable, it also presents a dilemma. While many people choose cremation as a form of death, a fair few still choose to be buried. If say one sixth of said population chose to be buried and 1% of them were to have a proper burial. That still leads to 10 million tombstones using up valuable space. And in 120 years or so unless we make serious changes empty space will be a serious issue.

Many graveyards contain headstones to people who have been dead for centuries. Without meaning to sound unfeeling, their graves no longer contain any bodies. But a headstone designed to fully biodegrade in say 20 years* or so would eventually free up this space for others to use.

The names would be deeply etched into the material** to prevent the names from being worn away until the whole monument is gone.

*I chose 20 years as it sees like enough time to allow people to grieve and to move on. If this seems too cold, then perhaps 50 years would be better. This is rough time not a specific number of days.

**I can't see why such a material couldn't be found. Let me know if otherwise.

hidden truths, Jul 24 2005

A loftier idea Ethermal_20Resting_20Place
[theircompetitor, Jul 24 2005]


       Burial is not really a significant space- filler.

Suppose the entire population of the world dies tomorrow and decides to be buried (by whom, I wonder?). If you give each person a 2m x 1m plot (which should do it), you can bury all of us in a plot of land just 110km by 110km. That's for *all* of us, laid out flat with a little room to move, OK?
Basepair, Jul 24 2005

       Admittedly this is a fair point, but this only accounts for the people currently alive. "Estimates for the number of people who have died since the pyramids were built (i.e., about 5,000 years ago) are around 6 billion, which is fairly close to the current world population". This makes a great statement for the amount that we are growing as a populus. In the next few generations more economical ways of removing the dead will be necessary. Cremation is already a common practice, but some people prefer the traditional burial.   

       Also, whilst not quite mind-boggling, finding 110 square kilometres of usable space wouldn't be simple.
hidden truths, Jul 24 2005

       Isn't there a burial scheme where you die, they bury you, and plant a tree with a little plaque saying who lies beneath - there's a graveyard somewhere which looks like a forestry plot.
froglet, Jul 24 2005

       Well, it's not 110 square km, but 110 km squared, or 12,100 square kilometres. This is about 0.02 *percent* of the total land area of the planet. Can we not spare that?
I, for one, would like to nominate Basingstoke and its environs to become the first well-tesselated graveyard; it ought to be able to cater for all the inhabitants of the UK, at least.

If you don't fancy that idea, then 12,100 square kilometres is roughly the total land area occupied by McDonalds, Burger King and KFC outlets (including their car-parks, but excluding the thousands of square miles of land used to grow burgers).
Basepair, Jul 24 2005

       Why not simply stand explosive headstones to mark the area? Not only would this remove the problem of getting rid of a headstone, it would remove all remnants of the deceased and their coffin, and a good deal of earth, making it a lot easier to bury the next unfortunate soul.
fridge duck, Jul 25 2005

       Suggesting we mark of an area to bury everyone is rather ridiculous. Nobody is going to ship a body around the world to get it buried.   

       Plus, people like visiting the tomb. That's why we have graveyards.   

       Suggesting we mark off an area is a worse idea than the original one; the same effect with none of the payoff of saved space.   

       Hell, the best idea would be to feed the body to people/animals.
ilanbg, Jul 25 2005

       It makes sense but cannibalism is widely known to exist and for some reason people don't like to see their recently deceased loved ones being, quite literally, thrown to the wolves.
hidden truths, Jul 25 2005

       once families have moved on they should put up their gravesite.   


       used gravesites anyone??
IcarusByNight, Jul 25 2005

       What about people who are unrecognised in their lifetimes but become famous after a number of centuries, or bodies that need to be exhumed for medical or archaeological reasons? For instance, bodies were exhumed recently to investigate the 1918 'flu epidemic. This would be a lot more difficult if they were unmarked.
nineteenthly, Jul 25 2005

       Kilometer deep shafts in Greenland ice would keep millions of corpses in good shape.
FarmerJohn, Jul 25 2005

       "Greenland is icy, but Iceland is green...what's up with THAT?"</tired old joke>   

       We could always encourage stackable graves. Perhaps graveyards that are more like underground car garages. Want to see uncle Louie? He's in plot B-6-8. Here's your elevator key.   

       EDIT: I'd put up an idea for underground mausoleums if every other culture in history hadn't done it first.
shapu, Jul 25 2005

       // lot easier to bury the next unfortunate soul.// I thought you buried mortal remains after the soul had departed.
I second [basepair]'s nomination of Basingstoke - the place is pretty dead already. On second thoughts, go for Morecambe - the town is just a cemetery with traffic lights.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jul 25 2005

       Suet cake headstones? Or would you rather peanut butter on a corn cob?
shapu, Jul 25 2005

       //suet cake headstones// "This is the last resting place of Norbert Dentressangle. Eat me."
moomintroll, Jul 26 2005

       //the best idea would be to feed the body to people/animals//

I think the Jain religion practices this. Bodies are left to be eaten by vultures - the principle is that your dead body shouldn't pollute water or earth in any way. Quite a good idea, I think.
hippo, Jul 26 2005

       Consider me for at least being practical on this one.   

       But, why not just dump them in the sewer after they're dead? All that bacteria and algae and stuff would decompose the body pretty effectively. It doesn't contribute to global warming, and saves land space.   

       On the other hand, don't they take sewer water and re-impose it into the ground for nutrient and water re-usage?
EvilPickels, Jul 26 2005

       <aside> Tombstones are already biodegradable...it's just a matter of time.
ConsulFlaminicus, Jul 27 2005

       Plastic is perfectly biodegradable too then?
pooduck, Jul 27 2005

       Tell that to the clams in the Bering Strait.
moomintroll, Jul 27 2005

       Clams are edible but mountains, plastic and tombstones aren't.
pooduck, Jul 27 2005

       Plastic that clams have eaten still isn't edible. But they ate it anyway.
moomintroll, Jul 27 2005

       You want to bury people in Himalayan clamshells?
Basepair, Jul 27 2005

       Clams eat plastic?
pooduck, Jul 28 2005

       Clams eat virtually anything. THey are the undersea water cleaners. They just eat stuff that floats around in the water. Seaweed, dust, dirt, plankton, microbes, that sort of thing.
EvilPickels, Jul 28 2005

       As far as I'm aware, most municipal graveyards do this anyway. The plot only belongs to you as long as someone pays for it, or for 50 years depending on where you are and which is the longer. When your time is up, your bones are exhumed and stored in a ermm..what're they called , thingy. Then the plot is reused.   

       The cemetry type that [froglet] refers to is pretty nice, really. It's basically not a cemetary at all. ItÄs a plot of woodland. Each grave has a tree planted over it chosen by the dead'un or their family. The trees are gaurantted not to be axed for 50 years or so. I like the idea a lot. Also, you don't have to have areligious ceremony of any kind or a coffin or anything really. You can be wrapped in a cloth or anything.   

       One more thing, [hidden truths]. I work on archaeological digs. Believe me, there's plenty left in graves after 20 years or so. The napoleonic-era soldiers which we dug up still had hair and fingernails and their uniforms were still intact. Stuff from the bronze age, hell, the STONE age is still hanging around down there. Biodegradable headstones won'r stop you coming across body bits when you reuse a grave plot.
squeak, Jul 29 2005

       In the US, graves are permanent. You're dead, you're buried, and that's where you stay.   

       Of course, we have a lot more space because we've not been around as long, so...
shapu, Jul 29 2005


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