Everyone knows that death is inevitable and no one stays alive forever. Sometimes, you might even think about how you would want to go after you pass on: cremation or buried in a coffin. But now, a new, Washington-based funeral home gives you the option to turn yourself into human compost after you die.
Recompose opened in Kent, Washington last month but has been in the works for several years.
Its founder and CEO Katrina Spade began this journey to turn human bodies into compost in 2011. After playing outside with her young son, she started thinking about mortality, what comes afterwards and the environmental impact that conventional cremations and burials have on the world.
Over the next few years, Spade completed her thesis based on creating a more sustainable way for the end of life and green burials, took on jobs that focused on sustainable design and building, and started a Kickstarter campaign to help further her research and plan for a future human compost prototype.
Spade officially founded Recompose in 2017. From there, she worked on pilot studies and advocated for lawmakers to legalize human composting as a form of body disposal. In 2019, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5001 into law, allowing Spade to continue her journey of making Recompose a reality.
After raising $6.75 million for its cause, Recompose opened it prepayment option (Precompose) in 2020; this allowed people to make arrangements from all over the world. In December, Recompose finally started accepting bodies for human composting.
How Does Recompose Work?
According to its website, Recompose uses a natural organic reduction (NOR) process to gently transform human remains into soil.
The staff will lay a body down in a cradle that’s surrounded with alfalfa, wood chips, straw and bacterial microbes that exist both on our bodies and in the environment. Once in the cradle, they will then lower the cradle in a larger, temperature-controlled vessel filled with more plants and organic matter.
The body remains in the cradle for 30 days and in that time, those microbes break down everything in said cradle to a molecular level; this then creates a formation of a nutrient-dense soil.
Recompose says that each body creates one cubic yard of soil. Once it fully turns to soil, they remove it from the vessel and allow the soil to cure inside of bins. After curing completes, the soil can then be used to enrich gardens, forests and conservation lands, thus returning the body’s nutrients back into nature to help create new life.
For those interested in a green burial with Recompose, costs are around $5,500 for those living in Washington state, but the price may increase for those who live outside of Washington.