Archeology teaches us that the practice of Natural Burial is as old as humanity itself- some of our best knowledge of the ancient world is known through discovery of burial sites. Caring for our dead is said to be a significant part of what separates humans from animals. In Colorado, the practice of Natural Reduction (Body Composting) is the newest method of answering the ages-old question of what to do when a death occurs.
- What is Body Composting?
Body composting is an alternative to cremation, wherein a body is reduced to a nutrient rich soil by means of a controlled process. The temperature, humidity and agitation provide optimal conditions for this break down process to occur (in the presence of natural microorganisms), much faster than would otherwise happen with a body buried naturally in the soil. Body composting emits significantly less greenhouse gas than fire cremation, and the resulting soil is ready to nourish the earth in the location of the family's choosing. It differs from Natural Burial, where the body is simply brought to the cemetery and laid in the earth (and decomposition takes place at a slower speed, guided only by nature's cycles). Both options can return the body's nutrients to the earth where they can be used by plants and other life forms- in the case of natural burial, that happens right at your final resting place. In the case of body composting, the nutrients are in a container of rich soil but not yet released into an ecosystem where they can nourish new life.
- Where can my loved one's compost be used in a meaningful way?
Because the body composting process creates a large amount of resulting soil, the question of what to do with this nourishing gift is a common concern. In our increasingly urban world, many families do not have an appropriate piece of land to plant and maintain a memory garden with the soil produced by body composting. Colorado Burial Preserve is proud to offer the option to commingle the soil in a natural burial plot. CBP's Native Prairie Restoration Program means that every burial plot is planted with wildflower and grass seeds and other organic soil amendments to help it heal from burial activity. When Natural Reduction compost is buried in a plot and enrolled in the Restoration Program, you will be able to return season after season to see the diversity of life that can bloom after one person's gift.
As with any burial plot in the Preserve, you have the option to have a headstone. And, family plots where a combination of options (cremation, full body natural burial, and burial of body compost) are available in all 6 sections, so you can create the legacy of a family memorial site without everyone having to have the same choices.
- What about donated compost?
Some families who choose Body Composting elect to donate the excess soil after their urn or small garden patch is filled. Colorado Burial Preserve has identified itself to Natural Reduction providers as a recipient beneficiary of the compost, for use in our Native Prairie Restoration Program. CBP management is dedicated to habitat conservation and has found that soil amendments are necessary to prevent further environmental degradation from human activity in the Preserve. So, the nourishing gift of human compost is enthusiastically accepted for those continuing efforts- in non-cemetery sections of the Preserve only. Individual's graves and any plots-for-sale continue to be treated with conventional organic topsoil (tree mulch- or straw-based). Body-derived soil amendments are applied only in the fallow or protected areas, where they can do the most ecological good and not be disturbed by future cemetery activity. Due to the nature of this donation, the exact location of usage is not recorded, and an individual headstone is not used.