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Washington group proposes composting the dead to use as garden soil


Composting human bodies
(NaturalNews) If you were given the choice of how your body should be handled after you depart from this level of existence, which of the following would you choose: Normal burial in a cemetery plot, cremation with ashes in an urn or decomposition into compost for planting trees or crops.

Of course, the first two are routinely performed. But the last one is the latest alternative that is being introduced as a formal arrangement, not just throwing a corpse into an apple orchard.

The "formal arrangement" would consist of a concrete multilevel structure containing several rooms with pits containing wood chips and mulch with sawdust where dead bodies can be buried for only as long as it takes for the body to decompose.

Decomposed bodies contribute more to earth than a cemetery plot ever could

Then for several weeks, the human mulch compost is occasionally turned then finally removed and used in the real earth world for planting trees on a farm or gardening or whatever. The final discretion of where and by whom it's used is left to the deceased's will or the deceased's survivors. Each decomposition pit may be recycled a few times a year.

Instead of taking up a cemetery plot with a coffin containing a rotted corpse or winding up as ashes in an urn or tossed out into the wind or at sea, one's decomposed body could contribute to more plant life on earth. As things are developing the way they are, chances are your decomposed body could be used as compost for industrial hemp use or even medical or recreational marijuana.

The Washington state group that's proposing this is a Seattle, Washington grass roots group known as the Urban Death Project (UDP), a rather uninviting moniker. But it alludes to their proposal of having a designed three level concrete building in the city, which will be called the core, with all those wood chip mulch pits to compost dead human bodies.

Seattle architect Katrina Spade came up with the UDP concept. She considers human composting a meaningful, sanitary and ecological alternative to burial and cremation. "The idea is to fold the dead back into the city," she said. "The options we currently have for our bodies are lacking, both from an environmental standpoint, but also, and perhaps more importantly, from a meaning standpoint."

It would be like a funeral home morgue with refrigeration for fresh corpses, which won't ever need to be embalmed because the point is for those bodies to decompose rapidly after a short period of refrigeration. But there are legal and ordinance obstacles.

The first major obstacle is to get the State of Washington's law that requires all human remains be buried, cremated, donated to science or transferred out of state amended. "For this project to work in Washington state, at a minimum there would need to be a change in state law," said Seattle Public Health official James Apa.

Controlled mammal composting is already in use with animal corpses

The technology for mammalian composting has already been mastered with farm animals. After being placed into those wood mulch pits or simply covered with wood mulch on or near the surface, the decomposition is monitored by measuring the temperature in the mulch.

Microorganisms released from the process create heat that goes through a cycle of peaking then subsiding near compost completion. That cycle ranges from 104 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 F or between 40 degrees Celsius and 60 C.

More and more farmers are adopting this method, maybe motivated by the rising costs of having rendering plants pick up animal corpses and decompose them into different products for human use and animal feed. Animals rendered from farms and animal shelters or vet clinics are recycled into feed or pet foods with all sorts of unhealthy ramifications.

Composting animals and humans has it's plus points compared to rendering or wasting potential agricultural space with cemetery plots.

Sources for this article include:

http://news.yahoo.com

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com

http://compost.css.cornell.edu/naturalrenderingFS.pdf

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-rendering-plant.htm
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