The 'Urban Death Project' Wants to Turn You Into Soil

It's called 'recomposition'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2017 1:45 PM CDT
The 'Urban Death Project' Wants to Turn You Into Soil
A stock photo of compost.   (Getty Images)

While the "Urban Death Project" may sound like the title of Hollywood's latest horror film, it's something else entirely—though perhaps not less macabre. It's a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has a novel idea when it comes to making burials greener: composting human remains. It calls its system "Recomposition" and says it "transforms bodies into soil so that we can grow new life after we die." As the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports, the team is currently in the process of getting the necessary OKs to move forward. Most recently, they learned they'll be granted wiggle room by the state Department of Ecology regarding permitted "air pollution sources," a step on the way toward their intended pilot experiment: composting remains in a portion of Washington State University's composter.

As WSU explains, in 1994 it became the first university in America to build its own commercial-size composting facility. The Daily News reports animal remains—carcasses, entrails, and manure—are already processed there. A post on the state's Department of Ecology website explains the 66-foot-long composter will be divided into three 22-foot parts, which will allow the project to isolate the human testing from the typical composting activities there. Other hoops have been jumped through, but a final decision won't come from WSU on the project until early October. The project's FAQ addresses a range of questions, including whether bones and teeth can be composted. The short answer: They think so. The Seattle Times notes the project has run one experiment thus far involving wood chips and a 78-year-old woman's remains. (Read about another green burial idea.)

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