US's First Funeral Home That Turns Bodies Into Compost Is Now Open

US's First Funeral Home That Turns Bodies Into Compost Is Now Open

Recompose is based in Seattle and will convert a corpse into a cubic yard of soil, with minimal carbon emissions, which can then be used as compost.

What happens after death? No one knows what happens to our soul but there are several options to determine what happens to our body. Some people prefer burying the dead while some prefer cremating them. But there is actually a more environmentally friendly way to leave this world than the previous options. And that is a process called human composting. Simply put, it's a process by which human bodies are converted to soil. The first deathcare center that is all set to do exactly that is all set-up and ready to go in Seattle. It has been years in the making but an eco-friendly way to go is here.





Katherine Spade is the founder of the company Recompose, which is taking on the task of converting people to soil. For nearly a decade, Spade has been planning, researching, fundraising, as well as undertaking a campaign to change state law to make composting humans possible, reported The Seattle Times. The idea of composting came to Spade when she started to question her own mortality and was faced with the question of morality. She was unsatisfied with the options available when she questioned what would happen to her corpse after she died. Finally, after years of research later her solution was “natural organic reduction.”




The Recompose plant is currently working from a discreet location in Seattle. It can currently accommodate only 10 bodies. There were plans of expanding to include more but the pandemic has currently delayed this. “Ecological deathcare is more important than ever,” Anna Swenson, customer and communications manager for Recompose told VICE. “We felt the responsibility of making this available.” During the research, Spade found that the traditional burial was too toxic and expensive, cremation was too carbon-intensive, while rural green burial was inconvenient for most city dwellers. The architecture student then thought of soil-based composition as a better alternative.




In 2013, Spade finished her Master’s thesis about the topic, “Of Dirt and Decomposition: Proposing a Place for the Urban Dead.” She said of this procedure, "This is a very controlled process, completely driven by microbes. It’s fueled by plant material and monitored in a very rigorous way.” The Recompose method will be able to turn the deceased into a cubic yard of soil over a period of as little as 30 days, reported The Independent. Not only that, but it is also more eco-friendly, using one-eighth of the energy of cremation. It also saved as much as a metric ton of carbon dioxide from being produced compared to other forms of burial.





The Recompose method will cost $5,500 per person, with extra charges for transport. The composting happens in five phases. According to the website, the process is powered by "beneficial microbes that occur naturally on our bodies and in the environment." The body is placed in a cradle in a giant white machine that resembles a white honeycomb. The body is laid with wood chips, straw, and alfalfa to provide the optimal amount of heat, water, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen for decomposition. The body remains in the vessel for the next 30 days. It is then removed from the container and used to enrich conservation land, forests, gardens or given back to the family. 




"The soil created returns the nutrients from our bodies to the natural world. It restores forests, sequesters carbon, and nourishes new life," the website states. If you wish to, you can donate the compost to be a part of Bells Mountain, a 700-acre nonprofit land trust in southern Washington. “I think it’s terrific to open up alternatives, so people have additional choices that are both honest and elegant,” Karla Rothstein told The New York Times. Rothstein is an architect and the director of DeathLab, a research group of architects, scientists, and theologians at Columbia University that studies the burial-space problem in cities.



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