Your Corpse’s Environmental Impact

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This entertainingly morbid video from the series “Ask a Mortician” by Caitlin Doughty, founder of The Order of the Good Death, focuses on the highly problematic environmental–as well as financial–impact of the funeral industry. Doughty explains the severe environmental issues involved in traditional American burials and cremations. She then goes into two eco-friendly alternatives: aquamation/water cremation and natural burials. Though this is not a standard topic for language classes, or indeed any casual conversation, I think it could be a very productive one to look into, as it mixes the issues of environmentalism and cultural practices/taboos.

In general this video is entertainingly light, despite the dark topic. It presents important information about this often-avoided topic in a palatable manner. However, much of the humor could be difficult for learners to understand, and misunderstood humor on this topic could be horrifying to students. However, I would recommend using two short clips from this video in language classes: from ~2:20-5:00 (why modern burials are problematic), and 7:00-9:30 (why fire cremations are problematic). To augment this video, I would suggest one of the many articles about alternatives to traditional burial/cremation, such as this one, which describes seven alternatives.

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