‘Human composting’ on the rise as ‘green funerals’ grow in popularity

‘Human composting’ on the rise as ‘green funerals’ grow in popularity

Way of life

February 18, 2023 | 5:41 p.m.

The surge in environmental awareness has sparked not only the rise of green energy initiatives, but also the shift to “green burials” or “human composting” practices over more traditional methods.

Increasingly popular in recent years, green burial practices leave little or no impact on the environment, with “the body completely decomposing and returning naturally to the ground, thus encouraging new growth and the restoration of ecosystems,” according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance. Also, unlike traditional burials that use toxic chemicals, only biodegradable substances are used during the burial process.

In 2019, Washington became the first state to allow human composting, followed by Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, California and New York.

Traditional burial procedures use the chemicals formalin, methanol and benzene, among other toxins, during the embalming process, which critics say have a detrimental impact on soil, water systems and the body.

According to the National Funeral Director’s Association, in 2022, 60.5% would be interested in “green” funeral options, up from 55.7% the year before.

In addition to an interest in moving toward greener practices, the cost of a green burial is often significantly lower than a traditional burial, which cost people an average of $7,848 in 2022.

Washington became the first state to allow human composting in 2019.
Mat Hayward/Getty Images to Recompose

In contrast, according to US Funerals Online, the cost of human composting practices can range from $4,000 to $5,500, saving consumers a few thousand dollars on death proceedings. Green burials, on the other hand, can range from $500 to $5,000, varying widely depending on the cemetery in question and whether or not funeral services are used.

Although both methods promote natural decomposition, the difference between a green burial and human composting is that human composting decomposes a body in a closed, reusable container, while a burial involves placing an unembalmed body in a cemetery. designated green funeral.

The green funeral process market is only expected to grow in the coming years. With a market share of approximately $571 million in 2021, the compound annual growth rate of green burial practices is expected to be 8.7% through 2030. In 2021, human composting would have accounted for the largest share of global revenue.

Today we are discussing “body flow” in our terramation or human composting facility

At Return Home Terramation, a Washington state-based human composting service, the process begins with laying the body on a table for the family to view, if they wish. The body is then bathed by one of the teachers before being dressed in a bespoke compostable garment. Then the body is moved to their composting container, where family members can collect and place compostable letters, cards or other keepsakes for loved ones in the box. The body is then covered with the remaining organic matter needed for composting and is left to turn into soil, lasting about 30 days or less.

Green burials have grown in popularity in recent years.
JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

The soil is then screened for inorganic material and placed in a cube to rest and cool for another 30 days. After that, the “invigorating” soil then returns to the family or is scattered at The Woodland.

“Our process is the most transparent, gentle, and ethical, showing love and kindness to everyone who comes to our facility,” their website explains. “The process of terramation ensures that your last act on earth is one that gives back to it by returning life-giving soil to the earth.”

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