Perhaps we could ask for volunteers among her crowd to show us how it works

Seattle architect proposes human composting.

The Urban Death Project’s plans call for a three-story-high polished concrete composting structure called “the core,” which would be surrounded by contemplative spaces for visitors.

Bodies would be refrigerated on site for up to 10 days. No embalming would be necessary, since decomposition is the goal.

After a ceremony – religious or not – friends and family would help insert the body into the core. Over several weeks a body would turn into about one cubic yard of compost, enough to plant a tree or a patch of flowers.

The compost could be taken by the family or left for use or donation by the Urban Death Project.

“In this system, we transform from being human to being something else,” Spade said. “And at the end, what’s coming out, the material that we use – it’s special and it’s sacred, but it’s not human.”


Spade said human composting uses the same process as animal composting, in which deceased cows, horses and other animals are buried under wood mulch, sawdust and wood chips.

Thomas Bass, a livestock environmental associate specialist at Montana State University, agreed.

“The science follows,” he said, adding that livestock composting has grown in popularity because it is less expensive than incineration and is more ecological.

The prospect of feeding an apple or avocado tree in her post-life appeals to Grace Seidel, 55, a Seattle artist who has announced to friends and family her desire to be composted after she dies.

“The idea of being reduced to dirt and being able to be put under a tree sounds lovely to me,” she said.

Spade said the reception to the idea has been positive – mostly.

“People love the idea of growing trees,” she said. “They get really squeamish with tomatoes.”

Actually, I don’t see this as any different than what many societies, including ours, have done for thousands of years. Although I agree with those who are squeamish about using the remains in vegetable gardens.


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2 responses to “Perhaps we could ask for volunteers among her crowd to show us how it works

  1. chris r.

    question: how fast does bone compost?

    • you have to turn over any compost, and heat is released ... do you want to handle remains with Hep C and HIV or ebola in it?

      Maybe the movie soylent green will change your mind?