By: April Carson
There's a new mortuary science in town and it could change how we handle death forever. Body composting is an environmentally friendly way of reducing human remains which will result in cleaner soil for growing plants or even animal feed!
LAFAYETTE, Colo — In this suburban Denver warehouse tucked between auto repair shop and computer recycling business lies Seth Viddal who has built 'vessel' he hopes will usher more natural organic reduction as seen on "corpse man". A process where body parts are reduced gradually with time so they don't emit gases while decomposing like most other things do nowadays.
Body composting is a new mortuary science in town and it could change how we handle death forever. Viddal's vessel will consist of 100% natural materials which he says will give the body its best chance to decompose without emitting any toxic gases.
"It can be done at home, but given that people don't know exactly what they're doing, it's best to work with someone who knows," says Viddal.
Viddal says in this process the vessel will be filled with water and corn meal and other natural ingredients for about 4-6 weeks where temperatures can reach up to 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Then after which the body parts can be removed and can be used as fertilizer for gardens or lawns.
According to Viddal, the process is a natural one in which the body is returned to an essential state over a limited amount of time. “This is the same method, but it's done with a human body inside of a container and under controlled circumstances,” he said.
“It’s a natural process where the body is returned to an elemental level over a short period of time,” said Viddal, who likened the practice to backyard composting of food scraps and yard waste. “This is the same process but done with a human body inside of a vessel, and in our case, in a controlled environment.”
On Sept. 7, Colorado became the second state after Washington to allow human body composting. Oregon will allow the practice beginning next July. In Washington, the three businesses licensed to compost human remains have transformed at least 85 bodies since the law took effect in May 2020, and more than 900 people have signed up for the service as natural funerals become more popular.
As the amendment's namesake, Viddal, who runs The Natural Funeral in Lafayette, pushed for it and began constructing a prototype vessel after the bipartisan legislation passed.
The insulated wooden box is about 7 feet long (2 meters), 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep, lined with waterproof roofing material, and packed with wood chips and straw. It may be rolled across the floor on two large spool wheels at either end, providing oxygenation, stirring, and absorption for a compost body.
Viddal calls the process an "exciting ecological option," and he sees life in death as well. “Composting itself is a very living function, and it is carried out by live organisms. There are trillions of microorganisms—living things—in our digestive tracts right now, but they only reside within our bodies. And when we die, they depart. Nature processes death as a fundamental component of life."
Human corpses can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way by composting. It is a method that takes nature into consideration while also dealing with death.