An artist rendering of the future Recompose Seattle
An artist rendering of the future Recompose Seattle KATRINA SPADE

This week, the state Senate voted to approve SB 5001, which would legalize the "contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil"—or, as this process is sometimes known, human composting.

As I wrote recently at length, this is less gory than it sounds and doesn't actually involve turning Grandma over with coffee grounds and food scraps in your backyard. The preferred term for the process is "recomposition," and it's the brain child of Katrina Spade, the director of Seattle Recompose.

For several years, Spade has been working with advocates in the death care industry as well as researchers at Washington State University and Western Carolina University to figure out the best way to expedite the decomposition of human bodies—which, turns out, happens shockingly quickly if you use the right materials. When a body is laid over a bed of wood chips, alfalfa, and straw, it only takes around a month for it to transform in a kind of soil that is not unlike what you'd spread in your garden. (And before you take to the comments section and scream "WHAT ABOUT THE BONES???," yes, bones and teeth will also break down in that same time frame, thanks to, according to Spade, something called thermophilic microbes).

Next, the bill heads to the House. If is passes and is signed into law, Spade says the next step is to "work with the Department of Licensing to determine how future facilities will be licensed, permitted, and regulated. Then, we hope to open Recompose|SEATTLE, the first location in the world where folks will have their bodies converted into soil after they die." She hopes to have the first facility up and running by late 2020 or early 2021, which means you just have to stay alive for a couple more years.

In the meantime, if you'd like to help sway the legislature on this, you can call your representatives and urge them to approve HB1162, or sign up for updates at