Does ending your life’s journey in a cramped coffin turn you off? Want to keep being productive? Remain a vital part of the scenery? Stay tuned.
Pushing up daisies—or veggies if you’re into that—may be the thing in Washington State as legislators seek to change the law about composting human remains. That’s right. If dead livestock can be turned into compost, why not people?
We’re not talking Soylent Green. Not yet. Or maybe the conversation is happening and it hasn’t hit the news yet. My writer’s mind–PARANOID–manufactures far too many what-ifs. But there’s a lot of truth in fiction, the creepy kind that makes you shiver. (Great for a book! Not for real life.)
“Recomposition involves placing bodies in a vessel and hastening their decomposition into a nutrient-dense soil that can then be returned to families,” Wired says. “The aim is a less expensive way of dealing with human remains that is better for the environment than burial, which can leach chemicals into the ground, or cremation, which releases earth-warming carbon dioxide.”
Here’s a rundown in the following video.
Forget embalming, coffins, and a gated hill of moss-stained headstones. Look to the Urban Death Project, architect Katrina Spade’s non-profit that has already died, giving rise to Recompose. The new, green way of dealing with death.
“If Spade’s first recomposition center opens in Seattle in 2023 as planned, it’ll be an airy, spiritual place where people can carry their loved ones’ corpses to a final rest—and put those corpses’ decomposition to an eco-minded use.”
Are you buying this?
I’m not sure about you, but the idea of being composted in bulk smacks mass graves, nothing spiritual about it. I don’t care how airy the place is. Same goes for Recompense’s offer for loved ones to return to claim “some” of the resulting dirt. Rich it may be, but that new soil could be anybody.
So much for the memory tree in the backyard. Families could be toting home a complete stranger or combination thereof.
But Spade insists that, “death is an opportunity to let go of Americans’ obsession with individualism.” Say what? Since when is wanting dignity in death an obsession with individualism? Burying the dead is not an American only custom. Far from it. Burying one’s dead en masse with strangers has never been ideal.
The so-called cost savings isn’t that great either. Yes, burial plots can be expensive. Yes, the cost of embalming, a casket, etc. can mount. But Recompose plans to charge $5,500.00 for its services. That’s a mass composting where the family can take home strangers and revel in letting go of their American individualism obsession. That’s some spendy virtue signaling when the average cost of a traditional funeral runs between 7-10K dollars. Meanwhile, the green burial trend where families prepare their own deceased for interment is growing.
An inconvenient truth is also tailing Spade.
Natural News says compost heat does not eliminate toxic heavy metals or toxic chemicals,” contrary to Recompose’s claims. “It also doesn’t eliminate prions, the folded proteins associated with Mad Cow Disease,” and, “the average urban dweller’s body, it turns out, is a toxic stew of lead, cadmium, mercury, fluorine, pesticides and other chemicals.”‘
Spiritual? Airy? Try long term deadly?
“A typical city-dweller living in America today has an atrociously high level of toxic mercury in their teeth. On top of that, they have also bio-accumulated extremely high levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic and other toxic heavy metals which persist during composting. Lead is often bound to calcium in the human skeletal system. As those bones decompose, they release the lead which becomes part of the composted soil. This lead, in turn, is taken up by plant roots and shuttled into the food crops to be eaten by other humans.”
Talk about your scary tech!