By brendan Kiley

Someday, Sonia Baker hopes her body will nourish a tree. She’s already picked one out — a big, old Gravenstein apple tree at her granddaughter’s place on Beacon Hill. “That kind of tree makes the best apple pies,” Baker said. “At least my family thinks so.”

Baker, 84, lives in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood and is an enthusiastic supporter of Recompose, an emerging death-care alternative to traditional cremation and burial. Instead of going up in flames or into a graveyard, Baker wants her body taken to a future Recompose facility, placed in a bed of plant matter (mostly wood chips and straw) and, in a process taking roughly 30 days, decomposed into dark, nutrient-rich soil.

“The kids tease me about it. But that’s such a better way to say goodbye than shooting a bunch of carbon into the atmosphere,” said Baker, who founded the climate change-focused Edwards Mother Earth Foundation.

Today, Recompose is still just a concept. But over the past year…


An interview with Ashoka’s Michael Zakaras

Katrina Spade wants to transform the U.S. funeral industry, making way for many more options for those facing death and for their families. She founded Recompose in 2017 to champion a dramatically new approach that reconnects death to natural cycles of life and engages people through meaningful participation. Ashoka’s Michael Zakaras caught up with Spade to learn more.

Michael Zakaras: What inspired your interest in the rituals and practices around death?  

Katrina Spade: I had a moment around age 30 when I realized I was mortal, and I became curious about what would happen to my physical body when I died. Because my family is not religious and most of my friends aren’t either, I thought, what will they do? And I discovered that there are really just two options in the U.S.: cremation and conventional burial. Both practices poison the planet -- this struck me as the wrong punctuation for lives lived in harmony with nature…

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An Interview with Katrina Spade, Founder of Recompose

Katrina has been an entrepreneur and designer since 2002. She has over 15 years of experience in project management, finance, and architecture, with a focus on human-centered, ecological solutions. While earning her Masters of Architecture, Katrina invented a system to transform the dead into soil, which is now patent-pending. In 2014, she founded the 501c3 Urban Death Project to bring attention to the problem of a toxic, dis-empowering funeral industry. In 2017, she founded Recompose, a Public Benefit Corporation. Today, she shares with us how her organization is improving the relationship people have with death and dying.

How is your organization innovating around the end-of-life experience?

Recompose is a new model of death care that facilitates a deeper connection with nature and invites a more conscious relationship with death. At its heart is a patent-pending system which gently transforms bodies into soil…


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