Seattle Will Have Nation's First Human Composting Site

They've found a forest home for all the soil
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2020 9:24 AM CST
Updated Jan 12, 2020 6:42 AM CST
Seattle Will Have Nation's First Human Composting Site
Katrina Spade, the founder and CEO of Recompose, displays a sample of the compost material left from the decomposition of a cow, using a combination of wood chips, alfalfa and straw.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A warehouse in Seattle is being converted into a facility to turn the dearly departed into mulch. Washington state's first-in-the-nation bill legalizing human composting takes effect in May and Katrina Spade, CEO of Recompose, believes the facility will be the first of many. She has created a process that involves putting bodies in individual containers with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. After about a month, the body becomes around a square yard of soil. "To be honest with you. I was shocked. It was the craziest idea I had ever heard," says Alan Markin at design firm Olson Kundig, which is converting the warehouse. But before long, he says, he realized that the alternative to burial or cremation would be appropriate not just for himself, but for the world, reports KIRO7. They hope to open the facility in 2021.

Spade, who is now trying to get a similar bill passed in Colorado, says Seattle is the perfect place for the project. Residents are "really connected to nature and care a lot about the environment and the impact their lives make on the environment," she says. "And there's a little piece of Seattle that's a tiny bit dark and [more] willing to think about death and mortality than the rest of the world. A square yard is a lot of soil—and for those squeamish about using human compost in their gardens, Elliot Rasenick, who is trying to restore degraded forest land in the south of state, says he needs all the rich compost he can get. "There is a profundity in the death of humans becoming the source of life for these forests," he tells the Seattle Times. (This company has another green burial idea.)

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