Getting to Know Seattle: “Recompose”

I’m not obsessing about death, honestly. It’s just that there’s been a lot recently in the news about alternative methods of handling life’s end. All of this appeals to my dark Irish morbid sense of humor.

Recompose is a Seattle-based company that turns a cadaver into a cubic yard of dirt — which is apparently a fair amount. The family of the deceased can take the dirt home and spread it around, or the cubic yard can be donated to Puget Sound environmental efforts.

“Recompose founder Katrina Spade met Pedersen in a Seattle coffee shop last year and pitched the idea of legalizing human composting. The company’s system, she said, is a souped-up version of natural microbial decomposition. “It is actually the same process happening on the forest floor as leaf litter, chipmunks and tree branches decompose and turn into topsoil,” Spade said.

The company’s service, which would include a funeral ceremony, will cost about $5,500, she said (more than the average cremation but less than burial in a casket). Microbes go to work within a large vessel, about eight feet tall and four feet wide, that fits a single body along with alfalfa, straw and wood chips. Over the course of 30 days, as temperatures in the vessel rise to 150 degrees, decomposition destroys the body, along with most pathogens and pharmaceuticals, Spade said.”

I’ve always found the traditional Irish wake — with an embalmed body dressed to go out to dinner and with serious make-up applied — a bit bizarre. The oddness is exceeded only by the commentary.

Doesn’t he/she look wonderful?”

“They did a beautiful job. He/she could get up and walk right out of the room.”

“You can hardly tell that he/she is dead.

Good God. I knew at the age of four, when my infant sister died, that a dead body looks like just what it is: dead.

Recompose offers an environmentally sound, lower cost, much less toxic and much more natural end of life option. Just leaf litter, chipmunks, tree branches, and thee.


2 thoughts on “Getting to Know Seattle: “Recompose”

  1. I’ll pass on recompose. Also will pass on cremation. ( I was turned off to cremation by watching a 007 movie in the 1970s in which Sean Connery was put in a casket and sent through the oven have a crematory; but he escaped! ) However, I do agree there has been a lot of death both on TV and in person. As we get to this point in life many or most of our elders have died and several of our contemporaries. My 50th HS Reunion is in a month. There were only 113 of us in class. Now there are just 82. That’s a big loss.

  2. for Katie: I remember that 007 scene!Not a good advert for cremation, I’d say. Recompose is a very Seattle thing. Not sure it will appeal in other parts of the country. 🙂

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