Rather than traditional burials or cremation, Return Home is bringing people in Washington a third option: being turned into fertile soil after death.
After becoming the first place in the world to legalize natural organic reduction, Washingtonians are being introduced to the idea of Terramation, or the process by which human remains are transformed into rich, fertile soil.
According to Return Home, both traditional burials and cremations can be costly and devastating to the environment. With Terramation, you’d be giving back to the earth “as nature intended.”
The Auburn facility will be the largest of all Washington-based human composting services with the capacity to accept up to 72 bodies at a time.
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The process of Terramation is quite simple.
First, the body is placed in a vessel along with alfalfa and sawdust. Then, oxygen is pumped through the vessel, stimulating microbes in the body to become super active. These microbes quickly turn the body into organic matter, a process that happens in the natural world all the time.
The body stays in the vessel for 30 days, where the body turns to soil, which is then transferred into a large container and left to mature for another 30 days. After 60 days, the soil is delivered to the deceased person’s family who can then use the soil to plant new life.
According to Return Home, each body yields around one yard of soil. It’s up to the family to decide how much they want, and whatever remains will be donated to environmental restoration projects around Washington.
Terramation will become available to the public in April 2021. Return Home charges $4,950 per body, with varying pickup and delivery charges depending on proximity to the Greater Seattle Area. The package includes filing of a Washington State death certificate, refrigerated storage of the body as needed, the Terramating process, and delivery of excess soil to land in need.
Those interested in learning more can visit the Return Home website.