A plan to begin human composting in Seattle is now gaining traction in the form of both willing participants and the money needed to make it happen. It’s called the Urban Death Project.
“The Urban Death Project is an alternative to cremation and burial that uses the process of composting to turn us into soil,” said Katrina Spade.
She’s the founder of the Urban Death Project who came up with the idea of building a three-story core within which bodies and high-carbon material would be placed. Spade estimates it would takes four to six weeks for a human body to be completely composted.
Spade’s vision has gotten attention from people all over the world, thanks in large part to a successful Kickstarter campaign Spade launched a few months ago. More than $91,000 in donations poured in over 45 days.
‘We had people from all over who were backing the campaign,” she said. “Several people signed up at the $2,500 donation level to have a place reserved for them in the future core.”
Among those who donated $2,500 to the cause is Seattle resident Grace Seidel. She’s been gardening and composting for years and hopes the Urban Death Project will be fully operational when she dies. She says she is certain she wants her body to be composted.
“It just was a no-brainer to me,” said Seidel. “I just have this vision of this lovely bed of dirt I could just sort of sink into calmly, quietly, peacefully. It really does sound pleasant to me.”
Both Seidel and Spade have heard a few negative comments about the idea. They say that’s to be expected.
“People don’t really want to think about their own death most of the time,” said Spade. “So sometimes the first reaction people have to the project is fear and then, sometimes, anger.”
Spade says that’s why the money raised through the Kickstarter campaign is so important.
“That money will be used to partner with an engineering firm, to complete the second phase of design for the facility where people will be composted,” she said.
She says she’s also working with professors and law students at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University to research exactly what needs to happen to legalize human composting. Legalizing the concept in Washington state is at the top of their list.
Spade estimates they’re still about five years out from building the first human composting facility. She hopes it will be built here in Seattle.
As for Seidel, she’s willing to wait.
“I think Seattle is very accepting of new ideas,” she said. “And I believe that if I go more or less in my time, which is a couple decades from now, the Urban Death Project will be reality. It’s just going to take some time. It takes time to change people’s minds. Legislation takes time. It’s just the next step.”