By Abby Mihaly '17 and Tyriq Bostic '17
What are your plans for your body after you die? Before we discovered Urban Death Project, this question would have been surprising to say the least. I’ll be buried in a coffin in a cemetery, many might say. Cremated, I suppose, say others. More likely, you’ll tell us you’ve never really thought about it. A traditional burial is our society’s default. We don’t have many other options, and we aren’t trained to think about it. But have you ever thought about the environmental issues with traditional burial? The materials used in coffins each year are enough metal to build the golden gate bridge, enough wood for 1,800 single family homes, and enough embalming fluid to fill eight olympic sized swimming pools. Cremation leaks 600 million pounds of Carbon Dioxide into our atmosphere each year. Is this the best way to treat our bodies after we die? Urban Death Project provides a new option: compost. Rather than use up valuable resources, dead bodies can be recycled into useful soil, and give back to the Earth it came from. Urban Death Project hopes to create a convenient platform to compost your body after you die, and best of all, the process is free.
Urban Death Project is an organization founded to combat the pollution of traditional l burial and cremation. Based in Seattle, it aims to make humans a reusable resource. When mixed with wood chips and sawdust a dead body can become rich soil and give life after death. UDP has partnered with Echoing Green and Western Carolina University. The UDP also has 1,218 backers on kickstarter who have pledged over $90,000.
Urban Death Project hopes to make composting the new normal. This is a huge undertaking. Although one day the company hopes to have locations all over the world, today, they are only just starting, as a small enterprise in just one city. With this growth come many potential obstacles. I’m sure you experienced a little bit of that "yuck" factor when you began reading this post. Even here in the northeast, it is hard for many of us to accept the idea of composting your body. At first glance it seems morbid, disguising, disrespectful. We’re just not used to it. In other countries, Urban Death Project may find other cultural barriers, preventing the installation of this new burial practice, in a similar way as traditional burial practices in Sierra Leone was an obstacle in the successful prevention of the spread of Ebola.
The UDP wants to change the world’s views on composting the dead the norm. This way the dead will be able to give life instead of polluting the planet . With the increase of pollutants that harm the earth, the last thing we need is wood, metal, and embalming fluid in the ground. Ask yourself, "Do you really want to continue to harm our planet after death?" Or do you want to help heal it? Let’s make composting the new norm!