Excited to Death

I just read about a pilot project called the Urban Death Project that is a game changer for the funeral industry. You only have to look at the acres dedicated to cemeteries while population grows and housing costs soar, to see the way we honor our dead needs serious tweaking. We can’t keep giving land to the dead at the expense of the living.

And it’s not just the land use, but the chemicals and caskets we are putting into it. Embalming fluid used to preserve bodies contain formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, methanol and other solvents, none of which are doing the earth any good.

Cremation has its own issues. It seems environmentally friendly but its fiery nature means all kinds of greenhouse gas, mercury, dioxins and furans are released into the air with every firing.

The Urban Death Project plans to change all that in a way that all people-but especially gardeners-can embrace.

Touted as “Part public park, part funeral home and part memorial grounds” the plan is to build what equates to a fancy composting system for humans. Loved ones are wrapped in a shroud, carried to the top of a building that houses the recomposition system where they are gently laid to rest and covered in wood chips. After that nature does its thing until the result is a rich compost harvested from the bottom of the recomposition system and used on the flower beds in the park-like surroundings. You can come and visit the park and reflect on your loved one as they nourish the flowers.

If all goes to plan the first funeral should take place by 2023 in the first test facility that hopes to be built on the grounds of Washington State University.

This is definitely how I want to be buried. For a gardener to return to the earth, truly part of the circle of life…well, I can’t think of a bigger honor than that.

If I die before human composting makes its way to Canada, I guess my loved ones can simply find a large compost pile and stuff me in. But that’s probably illegal. Okay, that’s definitely illegal. And…well, there would be lots of issues that are best not discussed here. Let’s just hope the technology (which seems a generous term for something as natural and ancient as composting) gets here soon.

If you’re curious about the project you can watch a video and read up on all the facts here.

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