Could you be a little less obvious in your hints, Death?


I mentioned before that there is a company that has a “natural organic reduction” process that allows them to compost dead bodies. That’s great! Sign me up! Also, curiously, the company is based in Kent, Washington, the town where I grew up — they have a discreet warehouse in downtown Kent with 10 vessels for processing corpses.

Now I grew up in Kent. However, my parents moved to Auburn, Washington while I was away for my first year of college (they thought they were so clever, but I had a quarter of a bachelor’s degree and was so smart that I managed to track them down). My mother still lives in Auburn, as do several of my brothers and sisters, so it’s kind of a second hometown to me.

Which makes it a little weird that a second, larger composting facility has opened in Auburn.

What happens next is analogous with composting. In this case, the mix and the body reach a temperature just south of 140 degrees, which is almost cooking heat. The process is aerobic, meaning oxygen flows continuously in and out of the vessel. It takes the microbes in the body and puts them on hyper-drive, making them work incredibly fast. Typically, it takes many years to get that done, leaving behind soil.

“It’s what nature meant us to do. We just do it faster,” Truman said.

Carefully-trained technicians monitor the process. An air-filtration system informally called “The Octopus,” which is attached to all 72 pods, carries the odors to a machine where they are treated.

Within a month, the body is gone, leaving only the bones, which workers reduce and then return to the soil in the pod.

Wait, a key part of the system is called “The Octopus”? Is fate sending me a message, calling me home? But I’m not ready yet!

This could be me, in the distant future, I hope.

Comments

  1. JoeBuddha says

    As a Renton (well, Fairwood) resident, that’s just down the hill. Maybe I should sign up.

  2. llyris says

    Sounds like fate is calling you home to an exciting and lucrative job in composting / biological technology. (Disclaimer: probably not that lucrative or exciting)

  3. cartomancer says

    I consulted the cards for you, with that query.

    Death, as is his usual wont, said: NO.

  4. Bruce Fuentes says

    I may have mentioned this before. I live on some acreage in NW WI. When I die I am being buried on the property. A good friend is a cabinet maker. He is going to make a simple thin-walled pine box. They will dig a hole and put the pine box in it and cover the box with dirt. I wanted just a shroud, but my wife is afraid some family members will be upset seeing my body in just a shroud as they dump my body in the hole. I was willing to negotiate. The box will be thin and have holes so that it will deteriorate quickly. Most of our property is swampy so the box and I should deteriorate fairly quickly. Now if I could just somehow arrange for a bear to dig up my body, that would be perfect.

  5. charley says

    Or, instead of paying $5k to rush composting, most states (including Minnesota but not Washington) allow burial by family on private property. According to my five minutes of internet research.

  6. says

    I’ve been watching this company for months now. I’m 69 and live in Rhode Island so it could be years before there is a company like this near me but this is the way I want to go.
    Other people in this thread are pointing out other green burials but all those others miss the point. Nearly all those others require embalming and even cremation. And embalming and cremation are horrendous to the environment regardless of how green the spot is where they place your ashes.
    This process eliminates that and thus it is impossible for someone to die on the east coast and partake of this process unless I’m willing to pay to be frozen for the trip. Which then interferes with the environmental issues I’m concerned about.

  7. davidc1 says

    Don’t know if this is available in the UK ,there are companies that will cremate you and cut out all the crap that is part of the death
    industry ,they return the ashes to your next of kin and they carry out any final wishes .
    Also there are companies that will do a forest burial ,i think that’s what it is called ,they plant a tree on top of you .

  8. unclefrogy says

    well I am sure that cost a bunch of money. I have read about :sky burial” which sounds pretty nice to me. i live by the sea and would not mind if my un-preserved body was just taken out to some place in the Catalina channel and dumped overboard either. I hope no one spends a bunch of money on me after I die, but I really wont be able to do much about it .
    from “Me and the Devil” when I die bury me over by the high side, I don’t care where you bury my body when I’m dead and gone”

  9. unclefrogy says

    oh man!?
    “When I die bury me over by the highway side, hell I don’t care where you bury my body when I’m dead and gone”

  10. Jazzlet says

    Bruce Fuentes @8 You might consider a whicker coffin, which comes with in-built holes.

    markmckee @ 10 You don’t have to be embalmed to be buried, that is part of what is meant by a green burial, so in a country with a lot of space like the USA it’s a reasonable option.

    I am hoping this takes off in the UK as it does seem to be the most environmentally friendly way to deal with a body in a place with limited land.

  11. Rich Woods says

    @Jazzlet #16:

    I am hoping this takes off in the UK as it does seem to be the most environmentally friendly way to deal with a body in a place with limited land.

    Given how little land the NIMBYs will allow anything to happen on, I reckon we’ll have to be buried vertically. Not as much laid to rest as standing to attention. Drill a ten-foot hole using a 2ft-diameter augur and you have the choice of going in headfirst or feetfirst. I would have liked to have been buried with a mighty oak planted atop me, but the graves will be so crammed together I may have to settle for a titchy crabapple.

  12. bcw bcw says

    This sounds an awful lot like the process for growing yeast starter for beer- same regulated temperature, same injected airflow to keep the process aerobic (so the yeast grows rather than making alcohol), same interesting smells. I’m thinking you could be the source for a lot more than compost.

  13. publicola says

    That’s pretty neat. Once I’m composted, someone can take me to the top of Mt. Washington (windiest place in the country) and scatter me to the Four Winds.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    Instead of crushing the bones, there should be an option to keep them for a burial. At this point a burial will not be unhygienic; you could bury them in your own back yard.
    If rules were more flexible you should be able to have a home burial. Bones will not poison the water table.

  15. davidc1 says

    @16 Was going to post about people being buried upright ,seeing what day it is .
    There is a book called Necropolis ,London and it’s dead ,by Catherine Arnold ,very interesting how the cockneys
    got rid of their dead.

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