(In February 2018, a Japanese film crew traveled from Los Angeles to Bellingham to film Radiant Heart’s facility and to interview me about eco-friendly water cremation for pets…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…)
On Sunday morning, September 14, 2017, a friend sent me a text with a link to an article in the Seattle Times about a new company called Resting Waters – a pet-only funeral home and on-site provider of pet aquamation.
What is aquamation? (I didn’t know either.) It’s a new term. In fact, it’s so new that it’s not yet listed on Dictionary.com. Aquamation is a synonym for resomation, bio-cremation or eco-friendly water cremation. It uses flowing warm water and alkali to break down a pet’s body into its basic elements.
The end result of water cremation and traditional flame-based cremation is the same – the pet’s body is reduced to bone. However, the processes, and their effect on the environment, are very different. Traditional cremation uses a flame fed by natural gas to reduce a pet’s body to bone, and the by-product is CO2. Water cremation uses alkaline hydrolysis, and the by-product is an effluviant that is released directly into the sewer system and that is actually beneficial to the sewer system. (Mobile water cremation units are available for farms and the effluviant is often spread directly onto fields as fertilizer.)
As soon as I read the profile on Resting Waters I had a strong feeling that water cremation was the solution to a problem I had been grappling with for more than a year – how to expand and meet the needs of the community without installing a second crematorium and pouring even more CO2 into the atmosphere.
My gut told me that water cremation was a service we needed in Bellingham, and that Radiant Heart was the company to bring it here. I called Resting Waters and made an appointment to visit their facility. I also called Bio-Response Solutions.
Bio-Response Solutions, a family-owned company in Indiana, produces (among other things) machines for water cremation. They have patented several models specifically for pet cremation that utilize an efficient multi-basket design. As an added benefit to the environment, they also build the machines in factories that are largely run on solar energy. (As the owners of Resting Waters will tell you, when you’re serious about the environment, you have to consider not just how your tools work, but how those tools were made.)
From a practical stand-point, water cremation takes a little longer than traditional cremation, but it is infinitely better for the environment. Estimates are that water cremation has 1/10th the carbon footprint of traditional cremation.
So…back to the Japanese film crew from L.A…
When NHK (Japan’s national public broadcasting organization) first contacted me in January, they had already filmed and aired a segment on water cremation that featured Resting Waters. The response from the public in Japan was so strong that NHK decided to film another segment, this time focusing on someone who already owned a traditional flame-based cremation service but that was looking to add aquamation. They wanted to know why someone would want to invest in water cremation – what were the benefits to the proprietor and the community. The gals at Resting Waters told NHK about Radiant Heart.
Here’s the resulting video:
The video is in Japanese, but everything said by me and other English speakers can be clearly heard.
(If all goes well…) Radiant Heart will begin offering eco-friendly water cremation, as an addition to traditional cremation, in June or July of this year. The City of Bellingham Department of Public Works has already given Radiant Heart written permission to install a PET-400. The loan papers for the equipment are on my desk ($80,000). A crowd funding project is currently under consideration to help cover the costs of installation ($15,000).
This is exciting. This is progress.
Stay tuned for more.
June 2018 Update: Our equipment has been ordered and is scheduled to be built in late September. A generous friend has offered to loan Radiant Heart the $15,000 needed for the installation costs. So…it’s a go! In the mean time we’re working on an animated video that explains the difference between flame cremation and water cremation.