How Far Would You Go For The Environment?

In the Disney animated feature The Lion King, there is a scene in which Mufasa tells Simba about the Circle of Life — even though lions eat antelope, there are ways these animals benefit from lions. When carnivores die, their decaying bodies fertilize the grass the antelope and other animals eat. The environmental loop is complete.

Which brings up the question, what about us? How can we complete the loop? Would you go so far as composting your own body?

Believe it or not, composting human bodies is now an option in three states (Washington, Oregon and Colorado). It’s called “natural organic reduction,” and it’s actually pretty easy. The microbes naturally found on the skin, in the body and in added plant material are enough to begin the process. Like compost in your yard, they generate enough heat to accelerate the rate of decomposition and kill any unwanted germs. Even the bones eventually break down.

Of course, such a radical idea has opposition. The funeral industry would lose a lot of business, and there are religious objections. But when you consider how much metal we bury each year (enough to build the Golden Gate Bridge) and how much embalming fluid we use (enough to fill eight Olympic-size swimming pools), this method of exiting the world has some alluring benefits.

For all the details, including a promotional video, see “Would You Compost Your Body to Create Life after Death?” by Michaela Haas (

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