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Photo by The Good Funeral Guide on Unsplash

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the first black Archbishop of Cape Town; and he was widely known for his work as an anti-apartheid, human rights and climate activist. He died on December 26, 2021. His body wasn’t embalmed or cremation. Instead, the late Archbishop Tutu chose an uncommon process to dispose of his remains called water cremation, aquamation and green cremation. In this process, the body is decomposed in a mixture of water and alkali, also called alkaline hydrolysis.

His reason for choosing water cremation is that it is a more sustainable method. It uses five times less energy than cremation and it reduces the funeral emissions from greenhouse gases by about 35%. This sustainable deposition practice originated in the 90s, but it wasn’t until 2010 that funeral homes started adopting it in America. Now, up to 26 states in the United States, including Hawaii and California, and other parts of North America permit it. White Rose Aqua Cremation in San Diego County is only providing green cremations for all religious affiliations.

Water cremation is legal in the U.K. and Scotland, but lawmakers have yet to pass regulations introducing the sustainable practice in the country.

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