Hunter Beattie is still relatively new to working around death.

The Orange County resident made a significant career change one year ago when he switched from working in real estate and decided to create one of the handful of aquamation services offered in North Carolina.

Sitting in the welcoming area of his Hillsborough business, Endswell, Beattie describes his journey into the industry of alternative funeral care as both environmentally friendly and service based.

It started when Beattie read about the death of South African leader and activist Desmond Tutu last January. He says he remembers sitting at the Carrboro Farmers Market, learning that Tutu was choosing cremation by water, and looking over to a nearby cemetery.

“I’m reading all these articles – the Times, the Guardian, BBC – everyone picked up this story,” said Beattie. “It was probably the first time I really questioned this practice of preserving dead bodies, putting them in shiny, ornate boxes, putting those in concrete vaults so the ground doesn’t collapse, and then taking this space that could be used by the community [instead] for dead body storage.”