For me, September 1 heralds the end of summer, a habit of feeling and mind leftover, I suppose, from my school days. I think of it as a transition from summer chaos to fall’s dying off.
Speaking of dying, since arriving in NYC yesterday, I’ve read a number of interesting articles with my mother, two from the September 2, 2019 The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town”. The first of those is from the “Earth First” part of that section and is titled “End Zone”.
As preface, ever since a revealing cocktail hour with friends back in 2013, I have known that Carl tends toward green burials. Be it being left on a hilltop to be eaten by our resident crows or buried in a mushroom suit, Carl likes the idea of returning to the earth all that came from it, himself included. Thus, his nickname Compost Carl. He enjoys the challenge of composting everything that comes out of our chickens and our kitchen, and anyone else’s kitchen, too. Every week, he happily collects the food scrapes from Pearl Restaurant and from Millipore Corporation in Jaffrey. So what if a rat moves into the chicken coop? We have only to tweak our processing of the stuff. And so it was with great joy that I forwarded him this “End Zone” article on human composting. It is a step up from his now-it-seems-so-unoriginal-and-boring composting of food waste and chicken manure.
Washington State recently passed legislation that allows people to be composted—after they are dead, of course. Because we live in some semblance of America still, where capitalism ever thrives, a start-up company1 has been founded in Seattle named Recompose.
Recompose. Decompose. It’s all so musical, isn’t it?
To be recomposed costs about $5,500, plus your heirs and the earth get back about one cubic yard of “fluffy soil”—you—to be spread preferably not in your garden. (Though Carl might argue why not? It’s not cannibalism. It is adding nutrients to your soil. Even the Catholic Church suggests that Pope Francis might be open to the idea if it is done with love and integrity, not for money. Please read the article for context.) For comparison’s sake, an economic cremation costs $500, and an average cremation costs $6,078 with a ceremony and viewing, or $2,300 for a direct cremation. Ah! But here is the energy aspect: as we have learned in early postings, we must include externalities, yes? That cost of cremation does not include the cost to the environment. Since it takes two to four hours at temperatures ranging from 1,400 and 2,100 F, or 760 and 1,150 C, the estimated energy required to cremate one body is roughly equal to the amount of fuel required to drive 4,800 miles, or 7,725 kilometers.2
How much better for the earth to watch sunflowers burgeoning with your by-producted self?
The day is running rampant. Other thoughts on other articles to come. But for now, do consider this new and energy efficient way of disposing of your body after dead. No prions, please.
1 It’s called Recompose. Check it out.