What happens to our bodies after death?

No, not in the spiritual afterlife sense. Physically, what happens when our bodies stop living? It’s not a pleasant topic, but it is inevitable. So why not turn it into something meaningful and leave a positive impact on our world?

This is a concept that Recompose, a funeral home and ecological death care company based in Washington, USA, is pursuing.

Traditional techniques of dealing with bodies, such as conventional burying or cremation, are taxing on the environment. Cremation burns fossil fuels and emits carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming. Conventional burying consumes the land and uses caskets, headstones and grave liners that are depleting our resources. Both processes neglect the nutrients and potential growth that our bodies can provide the environment.

This is why Recompose has introduced a process known as “natural organic reduction”, or human composting. Harnessing the beneficial microbes that occur naturally in our bodies and in the environment, this method turns the nutrients from one organism into soil, which can then nurture the lives of others.

Recompose believes that the circle of life and death is essential, remarkable and beautiful. In operation for approximately two months now, the company is turning death care into a straightforward and healing approach that can transform a loss of life into new life for the planet.

So how does it work?

For natural organic reduction to occur at Recompose, the body is placed into a vessel surrounded by wood chips, straw and alfalfa. Over the next 30 days, microbes break down the body and plant material on the molecular level, resulting in nutrient-rich soil. Each body creates one cubic yard of soil, which is then taken out of the container and left to cure. This soil is transported back into the earth, which provides benefits such as filtering water, nourishing plants, sequestering carbon and regulating the temperature of the planet.

While death tends to be a feared and morbid topic (trust me, this has been slightly uncomfortable to write), it is quite a beautiful perspective to think that there are ways to give back to the earth that has sustained us our entire lives. That truly is the circle of life.