How body farms and human composting can help communities


Spade began her research as a master’s student of architecture with her thesis “A Place for the Urban Dead.” Wanting to repeat the process of composting livestock for humans, she invested a decade of research and fundraising in the Urban Death project, followed by the opening of Recompose 2020. Her intention was not only to develop a sustainable system but also to engage community members in body transformation. loved ones into the ground.

Legislation to compost people has been introduced in Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts and New York. A similar law in California received bipartisan support, but was postponed in August 2021. In some states, such as New York, the Catholic Church opposed natural organic reduction, calling it a process.more suitable for pruning vegetables and egg shells than for human bodies. ” But this religious resistance has not stopped legislation, especially in light of funeral homes crammed with bodies awaiting both cremation and burial during Covid-19.

Another company in Washington, D.C. Come home, provides composting of people in a facility that is open to the public, with a vessel capacity of 74 people.

“It’s about restoring our ability to say goodbye to our loved ones,” said CEO Micah Truman. “There is a man who comes to sit down every morning and bring two cups of coffee, one for the woman in the pot and one for him. Given the choice, people want to get involved, and that makes all the difference in the world. ”

During my visit to the Forest Laboratory at the University of Western Carolina, Seidlick highlighted the potential of composting, especially since many people think burial and cremation are their only choices: “Animals in agriculture are composted all the time,” she said. “And if human composting starts, it could be phenomenal.” She pointed out the ecological advantages in urban areas with the lack of green areas for cemeteries, where land is a resource that needs to be preserved.

Human composting is not yet available in North Carolina, where I live, but support has increased in a number of states since legalization in Washington in 2019. In many municipalities, restrictive codes around composting are the initial obstacles to a relatively new process of natural organic reduction. Yet, as soon as human composting became legal in Colorado in September 2021, Natural burial constructed bodies for composting bodies and began to offer a service in addition to green burial and aquamation, which uses water and lye for cremation instead of flames.

“We will soon be putting our fourth person on board the Chrysalis,” said Karen van Vuuren, co-founder of Natural Funeral in Boulder. She explained that the vessel was named after a builder named Chris, who helped build a container that would turn the bodies into soil.

“The first person to be put on the ship was a heavy loss,” van Vuuren said, “He was a young person. But the family was able to put handwritten notes on the body and lift it into a bowl to return to the ground. ”

In a world where 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the climate actions of individuals can feel intimidating or ineffective. My end-of-life decisions – in collaboration with my daughters – will not transform the climate crisis, but I believe in the momentum created by individuals in the community, especially when our last best act could create connections between life, death and the earth. Planning our death can engage our family, friends and communities while nurturing the country, instead of fomenting our climate emergency.



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