• Turning Corpses Into Compost

    Described as “a startling next step in the natural burial movement”, the Urban Death Project proposes to recycle human corpses into compost. What is startling? I submit that it is the fact that people are startled that is startling, not the concept itself. Unfamiliarity with the truism that the human body consists of organic molecules that continually recycle throughout ecosystems is evidence of how drastically we humans have become divorced from the ecological systems in which we are imbedded.

    Of course, humanity’s physical organisms are candidates for composting, just like dairy cattle and road kill. Bodies are nitrogen-rich. Combined with carbon-rich materials like wood chips, they constitute the ideal recipe for a fertile medium. Microbes do all the work. Temperatures rise to around 140 degrees when the decompose materials are decomposed. In the process, most pathogens are killed whle no odor is produced.

    This project received a ‘finalist’ commendation by the prestigious Buckminster Fuller Challenge in November 2016. It is in its infancy. No bodies have yet been successfully composted. Jae Rhim Lee’s approach to human burial is more highly developed. Perhaps it is also more acceptable to contemporary norms and attitudes since the corpse is still laid in the ground where the mycelia do their decomposing out of sight.

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To Life! by Linda Weintraub
To Life! Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet documents the burgeoning eco art movement from A to Z, presenting a panorama of artistic responses to environmental concerns, from Ant Farms anti-consumer antics in the 1970s to Marina Zurkows 2007 animation that anticipates the havoc wreaked upon the planet by global warming. This text is the first international survey of twentieth and twenty-first-century artists who are transforming the global challenges facing humanity and the Earths diverse living systems. Their pioneering explorations are situated at todays cultural, scientific, economic, spiritual, and ethical frontiers. The text guides students of art, design, environmental studies, and interdisciplinary studies to integrate environmental awareness, responsibility, and activism into their professional and personal lives.

To Life! website