Now one company is making a difference. Katrina Spade, Founder, and Executive Director, of the Urban Death Project has developed an innovative plan for urban residents to have access to sustainable burials. Spade, a sustainable architect, felt that providing an ecological method of burial was important. “It is disrespectful both to the earth and to ourselves that we fill our dead bodies with toxic fluid before burying them in the ground,” Spade says.
The Urban Death Project seeks to provide an alternative to modern burial and cremation. Modern burial uses large amounts of natural resources namely steel and wood to build coffins. It then pumps toxic chemical fluids into the body as part of embalming. Cremation utilizes fewer resources but causes pollution in the release of CO2.
In the Urban Death Project model corpses are lovingly wrapped in linens by family and trained professionals. They are then placed in the tower, a three story building, which layers the bodies with carbon materials and uses microbes to assist with the composting. Compost can be used several months later in city beautification projects. The building serves as a decomposing chamber and a funeral home for families.
Spade feels residents in urban areas have fewer burial options. The Urban Death Project offers a solution to overcrowded cemeteries and lack of space to build more cemeteries. Spade feels that the funeral industry is unfair to inner city low income residents who feel compelled to spend above their means to bury a loved one. And urban residents are often not informed of their burial options.
The Urban Death Project is currently raising funds to implement the project.
Images (c) Katrina Spade