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Funeral facility Recompose launches ‘human compost’ initiative

The new technique slowly converts human bodies into soil which can be used to fertilise family gardens or local nature reserves, offering a more sustainable approach to the end of human life.

Discussing how we bury and store our dead can be an uncomfortably morbid topic, but it is becoming an ever more pressing issue as populations rise and our climate continues to change.

Traditional methods of body disposal are surprisingly terrible for the environment. Coffins and cremations produce a ton of harmful chemicals and pollutants and typically take up large amounts of land, making them unsustainable in the long run. As a result, tech heads and scientists are being forced to innovate, drafting up wild new solutions that reconsider how we view the end of human life.

Seattle based company ‘Recompose’ is the latest to draft up a new, environmentally friendly body management solution. Founded by Katrina Spade, the company offers a ‘human composition’ service that slowly converts a deceased individual into soil.

I realise this sounds like something from a low-budget horror film, but it’s actually an excellent way to reduce the carbon footprints of our dead while also promoting new plant growth and soil health – which is a huge factor in the fight against climate change.

How does it all work?

Official photos provided by Recompose could easily be mistaken for the set of Doctor Who, but it is very real and will cost about $5,500 per individual.

The project first began operating in December 2020. 10 steel cylinder vessels are available, each one capable of converting human remains.

A mixture of wood chips, straw, and alfalfa is used to create a cocoon around the body, which encourages microbe and bacteria growth over 30 days. The end result should be clean and ready-to-use soil that is then dried for up to a month.

After all the necessary processes have been undertaken, the final product can be sent to the family of the loved one or donated to Bells Mountain, a 700-acre non-profit land trust. You’ll be able to use the new soil at your own discretion, most probably to plant new life in a garden or local park.

Why are these burial innovations necessary?

As we mentioned earlier, typical burials cause damage to our environment and are becoming less of a viable solution to body management.

Various methods of greener and less harmful decomposition have been proposed in the last few years. We recently wrote about a company called ‘Loop’ that’s developing mushroom coffins designed to rapidly deteriorate in soil, leaving no harmful chemicals or pollutants underground. You can even check out our Thred Daily below if you’re so inclined.

We should expect more of these initiatives in future too, particularly as land becomes less available and our need to reduce emissions is greater. Who knows how we’ll be buried by the end of this century – perhaps flung into space? Anything is possible, people.

You can check out the official Recompose website here for more information.


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