Washington Has the Nation’s First Human Composting Funeral Home
Now you can have a literal family tree. I'd like you to meet my Uncle Douglas....fir.
According to The Seattle Times, a new kind of funeral home is the first of its ilk to open in the United States. Located somewhere in the acres of warehouses and light-industrial workshops spread of Kent, WA, you'll find the first full-service human-composting funeral home in the United States is now operational.
It's taken about ten years to plan, research and raise funds for the project, not to mention having to overcome the hurdle of changing state law, but "Recompose" is finally converting passed away people into soil. The first bodies were 'laid in' on December 20, 2020.
Looking like a colossal piece of white honeycomb, Recompose has 10 “vessels,” each in the shape of a hexagon, approximately 8 ft. long and 4 ft. high, enclosed in a steel cylinder full of soil. The process is known as natural organic reduction (NOR).
The first step in the natural organic reduction process is to lay the body in one of these vessels onto a bed of wood chips, alfalfa and straw for 30 days. By controlling the amount of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and moisture, the vessel creates the perfect environment for microbes and bacteria involved in decomposition.
After 30 days all the organic material has been broken down into soil. The fresh soil is then removed to a curing bin for several more weeks to aerate. After being aerated, the soil is screened to remove any non-organics (metal fillings, pacemakers, prosthetics, etc.) Whenever possible, non-organics are properly recycled. When finished, the topsoil if very similar to what you'd find and buy at a local nursery.
Recompose costs $5,500 for everything: the body pickup (in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties), the paperwork, the process itself and an optional service. (Body transport from further away can be arranged, for an extra fee, and Recompose has already accepted bodies from California and the East Coast.)
There are already competitors.
There is a natural organic reduction facility in Klickitat County called Herland Forest featuring just one vessel, they've dubbed the 'cradle' and an Auburn facility named Return Home with dozens of vessels scheduled to be ready in April of this year.
Death care prices in the U.S. tend to be ridiculously inconsistent, with few funeral homes listing costs online, an unacceptable situation consumer-rights advocates have been griping about for years.
Recompose pricing is transparent and not especially expensive, but it’s not especially cheap. It falls somewhere in the middle. But it does provide another exit strategy option in the passage from this life to whatever is next.
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