The Current

Corpse to compost, Urban Death Project redefines death

The business of death is pretty toxic. Which is why Katrina Spade has spent her architectural career trying to design a better ritual around burying the dead. She's interested in composting the human body …giving a whole new meaning to the idea of dust-to-dust.
Urban Death Project wants to see people return to the earth after death... quite literally... via compost. (normanack, Flickr cc)
Ashes to ashes... dust to dust... corpse to compost. (Diana House, Flickr cc)

Today our project By Design looks at  death, and the way we as a society, handle our dead. And if the thought of departing from a traditional burial or cremation strikes you as sacrilege, then you may not be alone. 

Our guest Katrina Spade would like to challenge those attitudes. She says those options don't only have a heavy financial cost to families, but impose a heavy cost on the environment as well.

Which is why Katrina Spade, an architect-turned-urban designer, is proposing that we consider placing our dead in a compost facility. There would be no casket, no embalming fluid, no cemetery plot and no greenhouse gas emissions from a crematorium.

  • Katrina Spade is the Founder and Executive Director of what she calls the Urban Death Project. She joined us from Seattle. 
  • Grace Seidel is a supporter of the project and has paid for her body to be composted when she dies. 

What do you think of the idea of composting instead of burying or cremating?

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​This segment was produced by Vancouver Network Producer Anne Penman.