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innovations

This nonprofit group wants to compost dead bodies

The Urban Death Project, a nonprofit group in Seattle, hopes to become the first organization offering human composting, Reuters reports.

The bodies in the project are turned into soil, which can be used to grow trees, flowers, or food. One human body could be enough composted materials to fertilize an entire tree.

Katrina Spade, the architect behind the project, told Reuters that composting bodies is "a meaningful, sanitary, and ecological alternative" to traditional burial and cremation practices. "The idea is to fold the dead back into the city," Spade told Reuters.

Spade hopes the compost service will take off in the next three years, but Reuters adds that there are "significant legal and regulatory hurdles" for that to be possible. Washington's state laws currently require humans be "buried, cremated, donated to science, or transferred out of state," so the law would need to be changed.

Even with the obstacles, though, some Seattle residents are excited about the project: Grace Seidel, a 55-year-old Seattle artist, told Reuters that "the idea of being reduced to dirt and being able to be put under a tree sounds lovely."