Human composting is the brainchild of Katrina Spade, CEO of alternative burial company Recompose.
Spade explained that recomposition involves moving the body to a specially designed facility,
“part public park, part funeral home, part memorial to the people we love.”
Your remains are placed it inside of a vessel filled with wood chips, alfalfa and straw. After several weeks of microbial activity, the body breaks down into soil that can then be given to family of the deceased or used by conservation groups to
“nourish the [surrounding] land.”
Overall, the process uses an eighth of the energy required for cremation and saves more than one metric ton of carbon dioxide for every individual who opts to use it.
Troy Hottle, a postdoctoral fellow at the Environmental Protection Agency who advises the Recompose team, told the Seattle Times,
“Recompose gets as close to the natural process of decomposition [as] you’d assume a body would undergo before we had an industrialized society.
In an urban environment, which is where the global population is growing and land use is at a premium, it’s the most efficient and environmentally sound method of burial.”
The New York Times wrote that the major obstacle facing the practice is the “yuck factor.” Many cultures find the idea of composting human remains
“repulsive, a contravention of cultural and religious norms.”
As of last month, according to the Seattle Times, Recompose has eight of its ten available “vessels” currently occupied.
The company told Earther that it had lined up 350 Precompose clients ready to use the service when their time to meet their maker comes. Two other composting funeral homes—Herland Forest and Return Home—have been approved to operate in the Washington state, and are expected to open soon.
A green burial with Recompose is estimated to cost around $5,500 in total, though costs are higher for those out-of-state. That’s more expensive than cremation, but on par or even a bit less expensive than the average burial.