Human Composting: Bringing the Planet to Life After Death
Talking about our own death or what happens to our bodies after we die is an uncomfortable topic for most of us. But the planet is urging us to have this conversation! Each year cremations in the United States release 1.7 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Is human composting the solution?
Human compost is just what it sounds like; turning human bodies into garden food. This project, developed by the University of Washington and Recompose, became legal in Washington in 2019.
According to forensic anthropologist, Daniel Wescott, the human body takes months to degrade, while human composting only takes about 30 days. How does it work? A mixture of wood chips and other biodegradable ingredients is added to the human body, causing microbes and thermophilic bacteria to accelerate decomposition. The process takes place at 131 degrees (bacteria responsible for diseases cannot survive under these conditions).
Even bones, and teeth break down into garden compost, and become fertile soil, creating about one cubic yard of compost.
Alternative to Burial or Cremation
According to the American Funeral Association (NFDA), by the year 2035, only 15% of burials will be traditional. Since December, 50 bodies have started the composting process, and 36 are now composted. More than 775 people have registered to be composted!
For now, the biggest problem for human compost is cost. Today, the process costs $5,500 on average. While cheaper than a traditional burial (around $7,000), a cremation only costs about $1,000.
This spring, Colorado, and Oregon have followed Washington, legalizing composting human remains, and later this year New York and California are on pace to approve it.
So what do you think? Would you like your mortal coil to give back to Mother Earth?