Human composting possible option as Kelowna cemetery fills up

Officials in Kelowna are mapping the future of the Memorial Park Municipal Cemetary, and that could include alternative approaches to burial or cremation, including human composting.

Human composting or "green burials" seen as more environmentally friendly approach

Katrina Spade with the Urban Death Project says many people are choosing to be composted after they die because it's more environmentally friendly than burial or cremation. (Urban Death Project)

Officials in Kelowna are mapping the future of the Memorial Park Municipal Cemetary, and that could include alternative approaches to burial or cremation, including human composting.

"When you talk about composting and human remains — it may not necessarily be the term we would use," cemetery manager David Gatze told Daybreak South's Gillianne Richards.

"The idea of a green burial is over time the body would naturally decompose into the ground, and I think overall, especially when new generations come and they're being educated on energy use and consumption I could see the demand for that type of disposition growing in the future."

Katrina Spade agrees the demand for the "green burials" will grow. She's the founder of the Urban Death Project, a compost-based renewal system.

"The options we have are shrinking, and they're not all that environmentally beneficial and many times they're just environmentally harmful," she said.

Spade says it takes about four to six weeks for human remains to fully compost.

"At that point we would encourage families to come back and take some of that compost — maybe they want to grow a memorial garden in their backyard or plant a lemon tree."

There is no law in B.C. that requires chemical embalming, but remains for a green burial have to be interred in a green cemetery, which is subject to proper zoning.

Last Thursday, Kelowna city council approved a five year, $660,000 development plan for the cemetery that would build a new section with 600 to 800 new spots for cremated remains.

That is part of a long term plan to find ways to make more room for plots, and keep the cemetery maintained once it's full.

To hear the full interview with Katrina Spade, click the audio labelled: Human composting provides alternative to burial.

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