Going green is the “in” thing and in the wake of the recent IPCC report, the planet couldn’t be happier. And now the trend is even extending into funerary practices. For people living in the state of California, it could soon be an option – after you’ve died, of course – to have your body returned to the Earth, so to speak, by becoming a big ole’ bag of human compost.
The revolutionary approach to dealing with our dead comes from Recompose, an ecological death care company founded by Kate Spade in 2017. The company first came into practice in Washington but has since been taken on in Oregon and Colorado and bills are currently in the process for Massachusetts and Delaware, with California set to be next to join the roster.
The bill, AB 501, will legalize the use of Spade’s patented recipe for breaking down the human body, transforming bulky human remains into a nutrient-rich compost. Spade has termed the decomposition process “natural organic reduction,” an ecologically friendly form of death care that takes a human corpse and turns it into soil.
The recipe for human composting is a simple and natural one, as bodies are placed within a mixture of wood chips, alfalfa, and straw to form a cocoon. Over the next 30 days, microbes in the mixture get to work breaking down the body, which will eventually be transformed into a soil much like compost. Loved ones can then receive a take-home commemorative gift of a sample of the soil that can be used to enrich green spaces.
It costs about $5,500 and can be accessed by anyone excluding a few specific causes of death. As well as being a comparatively economical choice, there’s an overwhelming body of statistics supporting its use for environmental benefits.
America is estimated to contain around 1 million acres (404,685 hectares) of land currently dedicated to human burial, representing a significant chunk of the land that has been stripped of its natural plant and wildlife composition. On top of this, the production of caskets sees around 4 million acres (1.6 million hectares) of forest lost each year, the loss of which is likely worse when the planks needed to facilitate burials are taken into account.
Embalming also commits around 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid to the ground, which can leach into the soil as a contaminant. Spade’s vision is to remove deforestation and chemical leaching from the funerary process, seeing bodies end their lives as naturally as they came in.
[H/T: LA Mag]