Turning Corpses into Compost

Afbeelding 300

A Project to Turn Corpses Into Compost

A new ecofriendly solution, instead of embalming or cremation - composting human bodies. Some see it also as a spiritual solution, as the body will help to create new life for plants.

The original press release from connectingdirectors.com

Cullowhee, N.C. — They lay the body of a 78-year-old woman on a bed of wood chips, and then more were heaped atop her. If all goes as hoped, the body will turn into compost.
It is a startling next step in the natural burial movement. Even as more people opt for interment in simple shrouds or biodegradable caskets, urban cemeteries continue to fill up. For the environmentally conscious, cremation is a problematic option, as the process releases greenhouse gases.

Armed with a prestigious environmental fellowship, Katrina Spade, a 37-year-old Seattle resident with a degree in architecture, has proposed an alternative: a facility for human composting.
The idea is attracting interest from environmental advocates and scientists. The woman laid to rest in wood chips is a first step in testing how it would work.

“Composting makes people think of banana peels and coffee grounds,” Ms. Spade said. But “our bodies have nutrients. What if we could grow new life after we’ve died?”
Scientists agree that human beings can be composted. Already countless farms across the country, including at least a third of Washington State’s dairy farms, compost the bodies of dead livestock. In some states,transportation departments compost roadkill.

“I’m absolutely sure that it can work,” said Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a soil scientist at Washington State University who serves on the advisory board of the Urban Death Project, a nonprofit that Ms. Spade founded.
The process is surprisingly simple: Place nitrogen-rich material, like dead animals, inside a mound of carbon-rich material, like wood chips and sawdust, adding moisture or extra nitrogen and making other adjustments as needed. Microbial activity will start the pile cooking.

Bacteria release enzymes that break down tissue into component parts like amino acids, and eventually, the nitrogen-rich molecules bind with the carbon-rich ones, creating a soil-like substance.
Temperatures reach around 140 degrees, often higher, and the heat kills common pathogens. Done correctly, there should be no smell. Bones also compost, though they take longer than tissue.
You can continue to read the full article at connectingdirectors.com

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