New Project Could Lay Deceased To Rest As Tree, Patch Of Flowers

Eventually we're all faced with the question of what will become of our remains — burial, cremation or donated to science? Soon you could consider composting as another option.

A Seattle nonprofit, Urban Death Project, is hoping to become the world's first organization to offer human composting as an option, turning remains into nutrient-rich soil.

Seattle architect and project founder Katrina Spade first proposed the concept three years ago as both a meaningful and ecological alternative to standard burials.

“Our bodies have potential in them even after we’ve died," said Spade in an interview with Seattle member station KPLU. “I just think it's an absolutely beautiful idea that we can be productive one last time."

The group has designs for its facility, but the project is still in need of funding and a location, plus it needs to be licensed as a funeral home, according to state law.

Spade said the project would also do well in Oregon. Though there hasn't been any official interest from the state, she said she's received messages from numerous Oregonians.

The Urban Death Project would host ceremonies, after which friends and family could insert the body into the building's central core. The deceased would be left to decompose naturally between layers of high-carbon material. As remains break down, they'll compact and move down the communal core, before finally being pushed out into an outdoor grove. Spade predicts the organization can be up and running in three years.

The body would then turn into roughly one cubic yard of compost — enough for a tree or a patch of flowers. The family could take some of the resulting compost, or donate it to the project.

"I believe that this option will exist all over the world some day," said Spade. "I get emails from people as far away as South Africa, the UK, and Australia."

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