What’s Next? Episode 11: The Third Option: Human Body Composting

What’s Next? Episode 11: The Third Option: Human Body Composting

Preparing for your funeral plays an integral part in estate planning. For a long time, people have had two options: be buried or be cremated. However, as the world continues to move in favor of sustainability, a new option has been born – human body composting. In today’s episode, host Liz Smith sits down with Anna Swenson, Outreach Manager of Recompose to discuss the process of human body composting and its environmental benefits. 

According to Anna, many people misunderstand the environmental effects of cremation. While the body is not going to pollute the ground, Anna explains that cremation releases fumes into the air that is just as toxic as being buried. To shift the death-care paradigm, Recompose offers a sustainable and meaningful option for funeral services. Their process of human body composting not only reduces carbon emissions and improves the health of nature, but also allows the body to naturally return to Earth. 

Tune into this week’s episode of What’s Next to learn more about the environmental impacts of cremation and burials, the process of human body composting, and how choosing this option could be meaningful to you and the environment.  


• “Not a lot of folks know that the environmental impact of flame based cremation is about the same as burial.” (01:56-02:04)

• “It’s the microbes that occur naturally in our own bodies that power the transformation into soil. So once we place the body and the plant material in the vessel, we close it and then the process of transforming into soil takes between six and eight weeks total.” (07:50-08:07)

• “We do test the soil for 10 different factors that are required by the state. And that is how we know when it’s safe to go back to the family or back into the environment.” (11:11-11:24)

• “For each body that undergoes human composting, it creates one cubic yard of soil which is enough to fill up about a pickup truck bed.” (21:12-21:21)

• “Grief is never predictable and death is very often messy. However you feel about it is the correct way to feel.” (36:33-36:40) 

• “If you want to be composted and your family doesn’t understand it and they say you should be buried in the Family Plot, but you don’t want to you, don’t have to.” (36:53-37:01) 



TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/katrina_spade_when_i_die_recompose_me#t-1333

People article about Amigo Bob: https://people.com/human-interest/human-composting-a-new-end-of-life-choice-turns-bodies-into-soil/

Article about Amigo Bob: https://www.theunion.com/news/organic-farming-pioneer-amigo-bob-cantisano-dies/

For all of Liz Smith’s resources give her a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizsmithlaw