When people die, usually one of two things happen to their bodies: Either they are buried below ground in caskets, or they are cremated, reduced to bone fragments by intense heat. However, thanks to recent initiatives we could soon experience another option—human composting. This turns the body into nutrient-rich soil naturally in about 30 days.
Just a few weeks ago I held a workshop at a primary school on Earth Day and met Susan Koswan, an inspiring eco-activist, and instigator of the Good Green Death Project. In summary, her project aims to make human remains composting a realistic, full-circle and eco-friendly alternative to the pros and cons of today’s funeral industry.
“Conventional burial practices are typically designed to resist the natural decomposition process. Cremation enables nutrients to be returned to the earth, but it contributes to climate change. The goal of the Good Green Death Project is to gently return the body to earth through individual composting. The resulting healthy, nutrient-rich soil would then be used to plant a new memorial tree in a protected area” Good Green Death Project
The fact that human composting has now been legalized in the US State of Washington, is owed to designer and entrepreneur Katrina Spade. Spade is the founder and CEO of Recompose, a human-composting company. Spade promotes her solution as a greener alternative to standard death practices. In the process that Recompose has developed, the body is placed in a vessel with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw, which work to decompose the body. Their recent company trial Washington State University determined that recomposition is safe and effective, and Spade and her team say it uses only one-eighth the energy of cremation.
Check out Katrina Spade’s TED talk: