Climate crisis, land use, rising costs of traditional burials; there are many reasons more people are considering eco-friendly processes for their loved ones after death. Katrina Spade is the creator of one of these processes, called human composting, which is legal in Washington State, Oregon, Colorado, and now Vermont. “Our company is called Recompose, which is what happens to your body when you’re composted,” Spade told Alta Live. “The molecules in you are rearranged, and you compose a new material.” Recompose lays bodies in a bed of alfalfa, straw, and wood chips to decompose, which takes about two months and yields a cubic yard of nutrient-rich soil.
In total, the process saves about 1.2 metric tons of carbon per person, compared with traditional burial; it’s also more eco-friendly than cremation. Spade first dreamed up the idea for Recompose in graduate school, founded the company in 2017, helped get the process legalized in Washington in 2019, and opened for business there in 2020. The second Recompose facility will be in Denver, and Spade has hopes that more states will legalize the process, allowing for expansion, including to California. “Recompose has always had fairly grand visions,” Spade said. “Let’s try to be as many places as people want us, which is, it turns out, a lot of places.”
Check out these links to some of the topics Spade and Spotswood brought up.
- Read “Ashes to Ashes,” by Tricia Romano, from the Alta Thursday newsletter.
- Learn more about Recompose.
- Learn more about the California bill related to reduction of human remains.
- Read Becky Chambers’s novel Record of a Spaceborn Few, from the Wayfarers series.•