A greener option to cremation or burial

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Humans have historically had limited choices regarding what we can do after death. These options include burial, cremation, and donation to research facilities. The time that loved ones spend with the body after death is very short for each option. Each one also leaves behind a significant carbon footprint. 

Newer options have developed over the past few years, although most still require cremation. You can turn cremated remains into glass sculptures, diamonds and vinyl records. Biodegradable products are also becoming more popular. 

A conceptual art installation by Italian designers Francesco D’Angelo and Adriano Del Ferro inspired the idea of human burial in tree pods, but the pods are still a work in progress. The only other option was to use a tree pod. “green”You could also place the cremated remains inside a biodegradable container. 

Human composting facilities like Return homeWe can change that.

How Human Composting Works

Eleanor Cummins describes Return Home’s human composting process in a Recent article The Verge. Human composting or natural organic reduction (NOR) is essentially a simulation of what would happen if a person’s body were buried without a coffin. 

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At Return Home’s facility in Washington, the body is washed and dressed in biodegradable clothing. The remains are then placed in a large container filled with organic materials such as straw, alfalfa and sawdust. After that, nature does what it does best (warning: it’s a little gross). 

Later, the enzymes that aid us in digesting food will be digested by our bodies. Use this siteWhen we die. The enzymes produce byproducts rich with potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen as they go about their work. The process is catalyzed by oxygen and heat. Biofilters are used to remove the distinctive smell of decomposition. After aerobic digestion, only medical devices or bones are left as solid material. 

First, medical devices are taken out of the compost. Next, the soil and bones are reduced into smaller pieces using a machine that looks like a cremulator. The material is then returned to the containers for composting, where microbes can continue to break down the smaller, less porous bones. It is often rotated, similar to garden compost.

From start to finish, the entire process takes approximately two months. Each family receives approximately 400 pounds worth of fertile, nutrient rich soil.

Human composting: The benefits

Although human composting may seem creepy, it is much more sterile than traditional coffin-and vault burials or cremations. However, it has many advantages. It takes time for human composting to be effective. This can help loved ones grieve in a more gentle and slower way. 

Facilities like Return Home allow family and friends to visit their loved ones at any time during the composting process. Funeral ceremonies are also an option. Return Home allows loved ones to send in flowers and note in biodegradable ink for the composting vessels. 

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Human composting is also eco-friendly in many ways. The human remains are turned into nutrient-rich soil which can be used to grow a tree or houseplant. 

It’s more cost-effective, too. Return Home costs $5,500 for NOR with a laying in ceremony. According to Cummins’ reporting, that’s about twice as much as the average cremation but half the cost of a funeral and vault burial.

Is human composting a viable option for you and your family?

Human composting is still quite small in comparison to the $18billion traditional funeral industry. The legality of NOR is currently limited to Washington, California, Oregon and Colorado. New York may soon follow. Religious beliefs and general distaste have stunted the NOR industry’s growth thus far, but it’s clear that interest in the human composting method is growing. 

Because frankly, it doesn’t get more “full circle of life.” It’s an excellent option for people for whom nature was an important part of their lives, particularly if the surviving loved ones shared that love of the outdoors.

As far as society and everyday life may make us feel from nature, we are still organic material. Aside from donating one’s body to medical or scientific research, NOR is one of the best ways to ensure you or your loved ones’ remains can offer something of use to the earth one final time. 

It is an emotive topic and all people have the right to grieve. However, if the traditional methods of handling human remains don’t feel quite right, human composting might be the gentle, eco-friendly alternative you’ve been looking for.

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