Is an intriguing and popular new alternative to burial or cremation

Is an intriguing and popular new alternative to burial or cremation

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The phrase “human composting” sounds like something out of dystopian science fiction without any context – but it’s a new, green way to rest the dead. The term describes turning leftovers into healthy soil, and it’s legal in Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state. In addition, the process has just been legalized in California and will soon be in New York.



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According to Axios, Recompose is a Seattle funeral home that is leading the way in promoting human composting as a form of burial. The funerals held there have traditional elements; however, rather than taking their final rest in a satin-lined box, the deceased is the center of a “laying” ceremony. In a process that Recompose calls “natural organic reduction”, materials such as wood shavings, alfalfa and straw are placed around the body and then sealed inside, starting the process that turns a corpse into dirt. .

Axios reports suggest human composting may be slightly more affordable than a typical burial. For composting, transportation and soil donation, recomposition ceremonies cost $7,000, making the process slightly more expensive than cremation (median cost: $6,515) and less expensive than a typical burial, which costs an average of $8,805.

Families can bring home urns of soil for eco-friendly use — gardening soil, for example — and whatever remains is donated by the funeral home to various causes. Katrina Spade, founder and CEO of Recompose, told Axios that while “soil is, on the one hand, very sacred and special to people who are still alive,” it’s also “just dirt.”

“And so to be able to return to Earth in a meaningful way,” Spade continues, “into the forest, through our conservation partners, I think that’s my preferred option.”

More than just adding fresh topsoil to areas that need it, human composting would also reduce the typical carbon output of traditional processes by 1.2 metric tons.

There’s probably a much better term for returning to earth in such a literal way than “human composting”, but according to Axios, it’s not as off-putting as one might expect. Katrina Spade tells the site that Recompose has held 200 composting ceremonies and 1,200 customers are paying monthly installments for future services.

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