When we die, we’re faced with two routes through which we can depart the earthly realm: Burial or cremation.
But what if there was another way, one that was better for the environment and left our loved ones with a piece of us to take home?
That’s where human composting comes in – a new trend in which bodies are turned into soil over the course of several weeks.
Washington-based Recompose was the first company in the world to offer the practice when it opened its doors in December 2020.
Now an American schoolteacher has shared why her late husband chose to hand his remains to the firm following his eight-year battle with cancer.
Speaking to The Sun, Jenifer Bliss explained that larger-than-life farmer Amigo Bob Cantisano had a special connection with the planet.
“When we picked up his compost, and I touched the soil that remained of him, a profound sense of peace came over me,” Jenifer, 57, said.
“It had been three months since he died, I missed him very much, and touching the soil that had been his earthly body made me feel like everything was okay.”
Jenifer met her husband through his grandson, who she taught at a preschool in California. They were together for 15 years.
Bob was a pioneer in the field of organic farming, for which he’d been a staunch advocate since the 1970s.
Near the end of his life, the pair discussed how he might like to be laid to rest and settled on composting.
It seemed the perfect fit after he’d spent years pushing compost as an eco-friendly alternative to chemical fertilisers.
“Bob was a fierce advocate for the Earth and wanted to leave the least impact when he passed,” Jenifer said.
“He was passionate about what he believed in and knew he would be leading the way for other people interested in human composting.”
Back to Earth
Jenifer contacted Recompose, which has a facility in Kent, Washington, where people’s remains are gently converted into soil.
The process, dubbed “recomposition”, is offered as an alternative to a traditional burial or cremation.
Once placed inside 10ft-long steel tubes and covered with wood chips, bodies can be decomposed and turned into a cubic yard of soil – equivalent to a few wheelbarrows’ worth – in as little as four weeks.
Remains are kept at up to 55C (131F) and regularly rotated during the process to ensure that everything, bones included, is broken down.
The resulting nutritious compost is then handed back to the family to do whatever they please with.