I already specified it in my will to go for such a solution or in the same vein, as long as it remain as eco-friendly as possible.
I really like the idea of having a tree with my name on it, instead of a tombstone.
~ Carl Sagan
One example is clay. Burying in clay rich ground will slow decay because it limits the flow of air.
Another example is from the late 1950s where people would be buried in plastic wrap, to make the burial process more sanitary. They did this for 15-20 years. None of those bodies have decomposed much, but worse is that all the liquids are trapped inside the plastic :|
 Sandra Pritzkow et al. "Grass plants bind, retain, uptake, and transport infectious prions." Cell Reports (2015). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4449294/
Our diet is much more varied.
At times (from 1660s), to ensure the survival of the wool industry and raise taxes for the state, the shroud was a defined quantity of wool cloth, of a stated quality, which had to be sufficient to wrap the corpse like a Christmas cracker, tied head and toe. I like to imagine it was much like a farmer growing grapes destined for the wine-lake: you shear sheep, to make cloth, to wrap corpses, to earn taxes for the national economy.
I don't see why we can't get to the same kind of open-minded "why not" with composting. We've already had woven coffins, and the ending of routine embalming in many cultures. The liquid biological digester I find slightly more mechanistically worrying. Nobody talks about what you do with the fluids afterward (I think its using Lye or some other caustic solvent to dispose, and its not aiming to fertilize trees the way composting is)
Burial at sea used to be another natural option. A body sewed into sail canvas, weighted with rocks (or cannon balls), which continued beyond WW2. Now it's a whole damn full size coffin, and regulations for the minimum amount of weight bolted to it - steel or concrete!
Happily there are better ways to be sure of death than the last stitch of Nelson's day. :)
Relocating a few bits of sandstone in a canvas bag is trivial by comparison. Just as well sea burials have become pretty rare these days.
Besides someone may be considering burial after they've already changed lifestyle as far as possible.
Interestingly, routine embalming is actually relatively new. While embalming itself has of course existed for millennia, it wasn't widely practiced (at least in the West) until the American Civil War.
In a lot of places, however, this is highly illegal and there are minimum requirements for burial (which can include embalming and/or a casket and/or a concrete and/or a burial vault which is basically a concrete sarcophagus that caskets go in).
Here in Indiana the only requirement is you have to be placed in a designated cemetery or graveyard 'within a reasonable time' however, pretty much every cemetery here requires a casket and a burial vault.
I used to bury people for a living and always found it so dumb, I'd have to excavate the grave, get chains under a vault and lift it with the backhoe, very slowly drive it out to the grave to prevent it swinging and cracking, lower it into the hole, go put the backhoe up, come back and jump down int he grave with a dust pan and get any dirt that fell into the vault and climb back out without knocking more in, cover it with a tarp and a piece of plywood then do prep an hour or so before the body was to arrive to have it ready for the graveside service.
Then... people would throw handfuls of dirt into the vault eyetwitch and after they left I'd remove all the fake grass and stuff, go get the small tractor, wrestle the vault lid into the front loader bucket, slowly drive out to the grave, wrestle it out of the bucket and get some straps on it, lift hte straps with the bucket and lower it down, let slack out slowly on one end to lower one side of the lid on, remove the straps, lower it more and then play 'don't crush my fingers' while I'm laying next to the grave trying to get the straps out without slamming the lid down and breaking it.
THEN I could put the dirt back and get back to cutting several acres of grass and walking around with a backpack full of diesel to weed eat while trying not to get sun poisoning again.
Man, do not miss that job.
There is a growing debate as to whether it is better to incinerate (cremate) for energy generation/offsetting, because the output can be more effectively filtered/separated. (One must of course plant organic matter to offset CO2 output).
This is why many European countries incinerate their waste to reduce risk of disrupting the land.
The dead body is wrapped in cloth shroud and the grave is dug six feet and is lined with concrete blocks (ground is bare Earth). Coffin is not used. The body is laid in the grave then if I remember correctly, grave is covered partially (25% - 33%?) with soil and then thick concrete/stone slabs are placed on top to cover the grave. After that, the grave is covered with mound of Earth.
 - https://coeio.com/coeio-story/
and the energy/greenhouse gas emission costs of cremation, I can see this taking off.
There's a picture and caption not discussed in the text:
> Katrina Spade, upper left, the founder and CEO of Recompose, a company that hopes to use composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains, looks on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, centre, signs a bill into law at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., that allows licensed facilities to offer "natural organic reduction," which turns a body into soil in a span of several weeks. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)
Was Spade involved in bringing that legislation about?
It also specifies cats-eye cubic zirconium retroreflectors in the eye sockets of the skull. It gives me a little thrill to imagine being discovered in a storage unit 200 years from now and creeping someone out because they saw the eyes glow from their flashlight.
Having a little trouble finding 25 mm diameter spheres of cubic zirconium, though, so I can't die yet. I can get a big chunk of it and maybe cut that down in a lathe, but I'd almost rather buy 5mm beads and make an array.
I guess the compost from this process would be of higher quality, but compared to burying your loved one in a machine where they have to decompose for a few weeks, I think returning them straight to the earth would feel better for the relatives.
Sky Burial would be my favorite way to go.
I've always liked the idea. Living in the Pacific North West, I would love to be taken to the top of a mountain and left at the top.
That said, I understand that this nice idea is not appropriate, because at scale it would ruin the mountains for the living :P
It goes into detail how on a generation ship the bodies are composted and become nutrients to grew new food upon.
When someone dies, their body is taken to a human composting facility [..] After wrapping the deceased in a simple shroud, friends and family carry the body to the top of the core which contains the natural decomposition system [..] It would be done in a contained vessel which [..] would be rotated to provide physical disruption so oxygen could access all parts of the composting material. This would also help control the moisture level.
By the time we completed our trials, we were developing material that was very pleasant to handle, it was a very fine compost that was relatively stable, [and] it smelled good
Where in Europe is this standard practice, exactly?
AFAIK that's not really true, europeans are not usually highly embalmed but they're mostly buried in coffins in vaults rented for years or decades (depending on the country).
AFAIK https://i2.wp.com/www.talkdeath.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/... is a pretty typical-looking cemetery for western europe at least (some countries tend towards just the headstone and no vault, but as an other commenter notes that doesn't mean the body readily decomposes either)
Those are not vaults. Those are just holes in ground with a cover on top. It's mostly decorative and there so that you don't walk on top of the coffin.
We don't usually own these also. Usually city where you live has a cemetery that must provide a place for the coffin.
That would apply to municipal graveyard while church owned ones are managed separately. In either case, if grave spot fee isn't paid on time, space goes back to the pool while remains of previous "occupant" are transferred to the ossuarium - IIRC.
Seems like a definite “slam bang” finish to whatever my life amounts to.
Opens up some grim possibilities though.
The composting happens slower that way, but it still does.
I'm also concerned about disease transmission. Cows' diseases may not necessarily affect us but humans' certainly will. The need to disinfect kinda defeats the purpose (pollution with chemicals)
Hope about we just compost other things and let human bodies be
The common method of embalming in North America seems more disrespectful - pumping a body full of chemicals that weren't there in the first place and helping to pollute the earth.
I think it's mostly a slower, cleaner version of cremation, though.
Nobody is forcing you to compost anyone else's body, right?
You have the right to be burned or buried in a variety of sanitary ways. Composting is currently not allowed, yet, in many jurisdictions.
Do you find mummies undignified? Stalin's preserved body left for display? "Heaven" burials Zoroastrianism practices?
I'm not too concerned about the transmission of diseases after composting (the presence of pathogens in the resulting compost will have to be assessed, but I don't expect them to fare well in soil. Prions may be harder to get rid of...).
My main concern would be about the plastics and metals from prosthesis and tooth fillings that would end up in there...
The judgement is attached to the significance of the person. The right casket, right dress, right ceremony. But ritual comes from religion.
A new religion around sustainable life will adopt this method. The others who adopt will be the fringe individuals.
Wouldn't respecting their wishes seem more important?
Yea, why not just dip the corpse in silicone epoxy, mount it on a plinth and put it on display. Oh wait, someone else has already thought of that.
“The first Matrix I designed was .. [a] monumental failure .. Thus, I redesigned it based on your history to more accurately reflect the varying grotesqueries of your nature.”
Once I'm dead, I'm done with it. I have no remnant of silly medieval ideas like the saintly sanctity of a corpse or any need of special religious consideration or ceremony. The most fitting use to my mind is, as ChrisRR suggests, returning to the natural cycle of the earth adding as little pollution as possible. Composting, repurposed as dog food, feed worms, fish or even birds via sky burial, I don't much care.
Epoxy filled as a display piece is rather high impact for my taste, I'd prefer to feed the soil with a forest burial thanks. If the "artist" were to offer my descendents a large enough royalty for my use as inside out epoxied exhibit, along with appropriate carbon offset I would gladly reconsider... :)
So our ideas about what’s respectful are based on the expectations that are culturally coded into us. When new systems arise, we’ll come up with new ways to imbue then with gravity and respect.
What is a respectful way to let someone go?
I don't see why it's any worse than burying them and letting the worms eat them, or burning them, crushing them into dust and scattering that dust into the sea.
I don’t particularly enjoying thinking of my own demise, but I do know I would rather my death be as least impactful on the environment as possible, and I’d hope that friends & family will at least smile knowing that was my choice.