Jae Rhim Lee is an artist and entrepreneur who is trying to make human burial more in-tune with the environment. She has designed what she calls the Infinity Burial Suit. The suit costs $1500 and is lined with mushrooms meant to break down the human corpse. The goal of the suit is to break down toxins and distribute nutrients back into the soil. The artist feels that this can remove some of the fear of dying and have us move towards death acceptance as part of life by being returned to the earth. The process would remove the common practice of embalming bodies and entombing them in concrete liners. The possibilities of some form of green burial is being considered by more and more people since it would no longer release embalming fluids, formaldehyde and residue from cremations into the environment. According to a 2015 survey done by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council, 64% of respondents indicated an interest in green funerals up from 43% in 2010.
Gisenyi, Rwanda is making important strides in protecting the environment. Stiff fines are now being enforced not for smuggling arms or narcotics but for smuggling plastic bags.It is now illegal to import, produce or sell plastic bags except for hospital and pharmaceutical use. They have even issued short jail sentences and shut down businesses for those who refuse to cooperate. The government of Rwanda has stated the bags contribute to clogging sewers and cause flooding as well as prevent rainwater from reaching crops.The streets of major cities along with the hillsides of the country are spotless. As a result Rwanda has earned the name of the cleanest nation in Africa as well as one of the cleanest nations in the world. All bags must be approved by the government as being biodegradable.
Chicago has now built what is considered “the Greenest Street in America.It is a two mile stretch In an industrial neighborhood of Pilsen. Bike paths and parking lanes are paved with smog eating concrete, sidewalks are made of recycled material and streetlights are wind and sun powered. “Bioswales” drains remove silt and pollution from runoff water with the aid of dense, drought tolerant foliage. This combination of a vegetation and drainage system diverts storm water from over-powering city drains. The road in turn uses 42% less energy to operate.
In the last decade Americans have eaten 19% less beef then over past decades. Although they are more concerned with health, it has also had an unintended positive effect on the environment. According to research done by The National Resources Defense Council 37% of Americans cited health as well as the cost of beef as the main reasons for the increase in consumption of other proteins such as chicken and tofu. The effects of raising cattle creates greenhouse emissions. This reduction is equivalent to the emissions of about 39 million cars. Cattle feed is grown using petroleum based fertilizers. In turn the animal’s digestive system produces methane gas. Methane is 25% more damaging to the environment then carbon dioxide.