In nature, the end of one life nurtures another. Over time, we have become disconnected from this cycle of life.
Conventional burial practices are typically designed to resist the natural decomposition process. Cremation enables nutrients to be returned to the earth, but it contributes to climate change. Green burials are becoming more common, but can we do more?
The goal of the Good Green Death Project is to gently return the body to earth through individual composting. The resulting healthy, nutrient-rich soil would then be used to plant a new memorial tree in a protected area.
Is it Legal?
In Ontario, licensing for death care facilities must be obtained through the Bereavement Authority of Ontario (BAO) which is the regulatory body of the Ministry of Government and Consumer services. Municipal approvals are also necessary through cemetery bylaws.
Although the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act enables the consideration of alternative disposition methods, this is a novel approach. Specific requirements would need to be determined by the BAO.
The Good Green Death Project is aiming to build on the work of Recompose in Seattle Washington. Founder Katrina Spade is leading advancement of this method of human disposition in the US. In January 2019, Bill SB5001 was introduced in the Washington State Legislature to legalize the “contained, accelerated conversion of human remains into soil.” On April 9, 2019, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on May 21, 2019 (effective May 1, 2020), making Washington the first and only location in the world to legalize this method of disposition. Human trials have been completed by soil scientist, Dr. Carpenter-Boggs, at Washington State University with a peer-reviewed paper pending.
This work could help lay the groundwork for a made-in-Ontario approach to provide the greenest end of life option.
How does it work?
The shroud-wrapped body is placed in an individual, enclosed vessel with supportive, natural materials such as straw, sawdust and alfalfa pellets, and monitored for temperature and moisture. The process takes about thirty days to gently return the body to earth, which can be used to plant a memorial tree, or scattered at the base of a shared “family tree.”
How you can help
Partner With Us
Contact us if you belong to any organisation – environmental, memorial, religious, etc. – that would like to see composting or Recomposition as a legal alternative to burial and cremation.
Volunteer With Us
This is a growing movement that needs people to spread the word and keep the conversation going. Change comes through public support and that starts with each one of us. Contact both provincial and municipal politicians to let your views be known!
Fundraise With Us
We are currently a volunteer project, with the potential to become a non-profit organisation. Funds are needed to maintain the website, cover costs for public forums and build up an account, for when Recomposition is a legal option, so we can hit the ground running.
Greener burial alternatives are a must moving forward. Written as an opinion piece for the Waterloo Region Record on November 1, 2018. Whether you celebrate Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Samhain or Dia de Muertos (Day of the…