Frequently Asked Questions

It is our mission to make the death care process as straightforward and as gentle as possible. Below are some of our most common inquiries.

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Death Care Services

Recompose is open to provide human composting and funeral services. Please call (206) 800-8733.

Planning

Your person’s soil will be ready for pickup between six and eight weeks from when the human composting process begins. Our staff will communicate with families throughout the process regarding when the soil is ready.

The soil created by human composting can be scattered or buried at the location of your choice. In Washington State, you must have the permission of the landowner. Families who choose Recompose have used soil to plant groves of trees or to nourish flower gardens tended by their loved one when they were alive. After the human composting process is complete, families can take home some or all of the entire one cubic yard of soil created (about the volume of a pickup truck bed).

Families also have the option to donate soil to Recompose’s conservation partner, where the soil will be used on eco restoration efforts at the Bells Mountain forest. In order to preserve the undeveloped integrity of the forest, Bells Mountain does not allow grave markers at this time.

Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction (NOR), is powered by beneficial microbes that occur naturally on our bodies and in the environment. The process begins when our staff lay your loved one’s body in a cradle surrounded by wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. The cradle is placed into a Recompose vessel and covered with more plant material. The body and plant material remain in the vessel for 30 days. Microbes break everything down on the molecular level, resulting in the formation of a nutrient‑dense soil.

Each body creates one cubic yard of soil amendment, which is removed from the vessel and allowed to cure for two to four weeks. Once complete, the soil can be used to enrich conservation land, forests, or gardens. The soil created returns the nutrients from our bodies to the natural world. It restores forests, sequesters carbon, and nourishes new life.

Yes, people who have died from COVID-19 can choose human composting. The heat created by the human composting process eliminates the COVID-19 virus. If you have a family member who has died of COVID-19, FEMA provides financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020 for deaths related to coronavirus (COVID-19) up to $9,000 per funeral. You can read full information on fema.gov. Recompose is a licensed funeral home and our services qualify for FEMA benefits. Our services team can assist you in compiling the information you will need to apply.

You can choose Recompose for human composting from any state. You can contact our staff at (206) 800-8733 and we can help you arrange for transport.

Most customers that come to us from another state work with a funeral home in their area to arrange for transport. This funeral home will pick up a body at the place of death and arrange for transport to Recompose. When you contact a funeral home, we suggest starting the conversation by saying something like, “I am looking to have my body transported to the Seattle area. I have chosen a funeral home called Recompose to handle my death care services. Can you help me make arrangements?” Families can also transport their person to Recompose in their personal vehicle with the correct permits. If you are interested in this option, please contact us and we’re happy to help.

Bodies that come to Recompose must not be embalmed. While most funeral homes are experienced with transporting bodies, they may not yet have heard of human composting or have experience with this kind of transport. If you have any questions or need help finding a transporting funeral home, Recompose staff can help you at (206) 800-8733.

Our article, How to Arrange for Transport to Recompose, also has information to help you.

If your family doesn’t want the soil created by human composting, they can choose to donate it to environmental conservation projects. Our current conservation partner is Remember Land, a nonprofit land trust in southern Washington. Remember Land manages a 700-acre forest called Bells Mountain. The soil that is donated to Bells Mountain is used on conservation projects like tree nurseries, erosion repair, and replanting native plants after the removal of invasive species. The nutrients that were once the body return to the earth.

For families that choose to donate soil, we offer the option of receiving a 64-ounce container to scatter on trees and plants:

Box that is holding soil from human composting process

Soil boxes can be shipped to addresses within the continental United States. Additional soil boxes are available for purchase. Please read our article, How to Consider Your Soil Options, for more information.

Pricing

The price of human composting at Recompose is $5,500. This includes the transformation into soil, the opportunity to keep or donate soil, and a virtual ceremony. You can find full information about what is included in our Pricing section.

The costs of death care vary widely by region and provider. According to the National Funeral Directors Alliance, in 2019 the median cost of a funeral and cremation was $5,150 in the United States. For burial, the median cost was $9,135. For more information on financial decisions around the end of life, People’s Memorial Association is a great resource.

Recompose’s $5,500 price for human composting does not include items such as flowers, newspaper obituaries, or additional transport for autopsies. You can see a full list of additional items we offer in our General Price List. The GPL is a document the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to have available in the interest of protecting consumers.

Our staff can help you order certified copies of the death certificate via your county’s vital records office at no additional charge. Fees for death certificates vary by county. For example, as of January 2021, King County charges $25 each.

Human Composting

Learn more about the human composting process, its environmental impact, and the soil it creates.

How it Works

Human composting is the gentle transformation of a human body into soil. Recompose places each body into a stainless steel vessel along with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. Microbes that naturally occur on the plant material and on and in our bodies power the transformation into soil.

Over the next 30 days, everything inside the vessel breaks down thanks to natural decomposition. The soil is then removed from the vessel, screened for non-organic items such as hip implants, tested for safety, and allowed to dry and cure for an additional two to four weeks.

Once the soil is complete after six to eight weeks, families can either take it home for use on trees and plants, or donate it to conservation efforts. Each body creates one cubic yard of soil amendment.

Learn more about the Recompose process here.

In the human composting process, everything is transformed, including bones and teeth. By controlling the ratio of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and moisture, human composting creates the perfect environment for microbes and beneficial bacteria to thrive. Recompose staff also rotate the Recompose vessel at several points during the process to ensure thorough aeration and decomposition, which helps to break up any remaining bone fragments and teeth. At the end of the process, Recompose staff screen for non-organics such as implants, which are recycled whenever possible. Any bone fragments that remain larger than 1 centimeter are further broken down before the soil is returned to families.

The human composting process takes between six and eight weeks. Each body spends thirty days in a Recompose vessel, then the soil is transferred to a bin to cure and dry for an additional two to four weeks. We test the soil to ensure it is ready to be returned. Our staff will communicate timing throughout the process.

Human composting eliminates diseases. The human composting process created heat over 131 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat ensures the soil created is safe and free of harmful pathogens. There are three rare diseases that disqualify a body from undergoing human composting: Ebola, prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and tuberculosis. Monitoring for these diseases is the responsibility of hospitals and medical examiners. For patients who have received radiation seed implants within 30 days of death, the treated organ must be removed before they are eligible for human composting.

During the human composting process, pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, and chemotherapy drugs are reduced to well below safe levels as they are decomposed by microorganisms.

During the human composting process, staff screen for non-organics like metal fillings, prostheses, and artificial joints. These items are recycled when possible. Like in cremation, pacemakers are removed before human composting occurs.

Yes, you can donate your organs and choose human composting. Donated organs will be removed by medical professionals at the time of death. Once removal is complete, Recompose can pick up the body from the medical facility.

Human composting destroys most harmful pathogens. There are three rare diseases that disqualify a body from undergoing human composting: Ebola, prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, and tuberculosis. Monitoring for these diseases is the responsibility of hospitals and medical examiners.

For patients who have received radiation seed implants within 30 days of death, the treated organ must be removed before they are eligible for human composting.

For now, Recompose is focusing only on offering composting for humans, not pets.

The soil created by human composting can be mixed with ashes, plants, and other material. In some instances, plants can be placed in the vessel at the start of the human composting process. Our staff can answer questions about specific materials.

At Recompose, the human composting takes place in a device we call a vessel. It is a steel cylinder, 8 feet long and 4 feet tall. The vessel rests inside of a hexagonal frame. Each body is placed into the vessel on a bed of wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. Over the next 30 days, everything inside the vessel breaks down thanks to natural decomposition. The soil is removed from the vessel and placed into a curing bin, where it is aerated for two to four weeks. Below is a photo of a Recompose vessel and cradle.

picture of human composting vessel and cradle

Human composting is also called natural organic reduction, recomposting, terramation, or recomposition.

Environmental Impact

Human composting is a more environmentally-friendly option than burial or cremation. This is because the process does not use fossil gas like cremation, does not require the casket and cemetery resources of burial, and sequesters carbon as soil is created.

To measure the environmental impact of human composting, expert Dr. Troy Hottle developed a scientific model to compare cremation, conventional burial, green burial, and human composting. The model showed that human composting and green burial perform far better than cremation or conventional burial at reducing carbon. The research showed that between .84 and 1.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide will be saved each time someone chooses human composting.

Human composting saves carbon through a combination of factors. The process uses much less energy than cremation, which uses fossil gas to create heat of over 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. When human composting transforms the organic material of our bodies, carbon is also sequestered in the soil created. Rather than being released as carbon dioxide gas through exhaust during a cremation, the carbon matter contained in each body returns to the earth.

Human composting is a greener option than burial or cremation because it saves one metric ton of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere for every person who chooses it. Each person who chooses human composting prevents the emissions equivalent of over 40 propane tanks. Cremation uses fossil fuels and emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and about 1.6 million people are cremated in the United States each year. Conventional burial also creates emissions from the manufacture and transport of headstones, caskets, and grave liners, and requires ongoing upkeep of cemeteries.

Human composting takes place in a closed, reusable vessel while green burial refers to the practice of burying an unembalmed body in a designated green burial cemetery with a simple casket or shroud. Both human composting and green burial encourage natural decomposition.

Human composting is not a type of burial because the body is not placed in the ground. Human composting creates an environment in which beneficial microbes thrive, with a specific moisture content and ratio of carbon and nitrogen materials. The molecular processes power human composting are the same processes that break down a body during green burial. However, these processes typically take much longer in a green burial context. This is partly because not as much oxygen reaches a body that has been buried underground.

Conceptually, both green burial and natural organic reduction return a body to the earth. Both processes are part of a worldwide movement to make death care practices less harmful—and ideally beneficial—to the planet.

Like human composting, alkaline hydrolysis—also called water cremation, resomation, or aquamation—is a process for transforming a body after death. Alkaline hydrolysis takes place in a pressurized vessel filled with water and potassium hydroxide, which transforms the body into a sand-like material.

In contrast, human composting takes place in a closed, reusable vessel. Human composting creates an environment in which beneficial microbes thrive, with a specific moisture content and ratio of carbon and nitrogen materials.

Alkaline hydrolysis has some of the same environmental benefits as human composting. Both processes are part of a worldwide movement to make death care practices less harmful – and ideally beneficial – to the planet.

Soil Information

Human composting creates one cubic yard of soil per body. The process begins with three cubic yards of plant material. Families can either take the soil home once the process is complete, or they can donate some or all of the soil to conservation efforts.

Human composting creates a compost ideal for most plants. Human compost can be used on trees, yards, house plants, and flower gardens, just like any other type of compost (such as compost created by food scraps or garden prunings).

All compost that completes the human composting process is tested by both Recompose and a third-party lab for safety. Additional analysis indicates compost that is good for use on plants. The pH range of Recompose compost is usually between 6.5 and 7, which is ideal for most plants. Electrical conductivity is moderate, indicating the presence of soluble (plant-available) ions. As a fertilizer, the nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium-sulfur content is balanced, providing good nutrient content with a good supply of macronutrients.

Respiration test results indicate Recompose compost is at “Very Stable” levels, indicating that most of the “fast pool” of sugars have been used up by microbes and nutrients are stabilized. Nitrate content is high, indicating aerobic status and advanced decomposition. Bioassay does show relative immaturity, so we recommend use at lower concentration around roots of young plants.

Human composting creates one cubic yard of soil per body. Recompose offers families the option to take the soil home to use on trees and plants, or the option to donate some or all of the soil to a conservation partner. Our current conservation partner is the nonprofit organization, Remember Land. They manage a 700-acre forest in southern Washington called Bells Mountain. The soil that is donated to Bells Mountain is used on conservation projects like tree nurseries, erosion repair, and replanting native plants after the removal of invasive species. The nutrients that were once the body return to the earth.

The soil created by human composting is valuable material that can be used to nourish trees and plants. It can be used in yards, flower gardens, trees, house plants, and in natural environments. Its pH of 6.6 is ideal for most plants. It has a balanced nutrient content with a good supply of macronutrients.

Recompose customers have used their person’s soil to create groves of trees, nourish rose gardens tended by their person while they were alive, or scattered in a favorite natural area. In Washington, the law for scattering human composting soil is the same for cremated remains: You must have permission of the land owner in order to use the soil from human composting on private land. It is also legal to scatter in navigable waterways.

If you have any questions about what you can do with your soil, our staff is happy to help.

Legal Process

Human composting is legal in Washington, Colorado, and Oregon. Recompose is currently open in Washington State and plans to open in Colorado by late 2022. We are also partnering with lawmakers to legalize human composting in more states. You can learn more about our efforts on our Public Policy page.

Recompose’s mission is to bring human composting everywhere there are people who want it. We’ll announce all future expansions via our newsletter.

In the U.S., the laws governing human remains vary greatly from state to state, as do the processes for passing new laws. Because of this, we don’t have an easy template for how to pass human composting laws in new states. Talking to friends and family about your end-of-life wishes and why Recompose is meaningful for you is a great way to start building interest and demand in your area.

As Recompose expands, the number of people who are interested in our service is a big factor in choosing which states we pursue next. You can read more about this on our Public Policy page.

Precompose

Information about choosing human composting for your future death care

Planning

If Recompose is not available at the time of your death, you or your designated agent will receive a 90% refund either at the time of death or at the time of Recompose’s closing. The remaining 10% is retained for operational costs.

At any time you can request and receive back 90% of the money you’ve paid to Precompose. Washington State law requires Recompose to hold 90% of the money from the purchase of prepaid funeral services in a trust fund. The remaining 10% is kept by Recompose for our operating costs.

You can choose Recompose for human composting from any state. You can contact our staff at (206) 800-8733 and we can help you arrange for transport.

Most customers that come to us from another state work with a funeral home in their area to arrange for transport. This funeral home will pick up a body at the place of death and arrange for transport to Recompose. When you contact a funeral home, we suggest starting the conversation by saying something like, “I am looking to have my body transported to the Seattle area. I have chosen a funeral home called Recompose to handle my death care services. Can you help me make arrangements?” Families can also transport their person to Recompose in their personal vehicle with the correct permits. If you are interested in this option, please contact us and we’re happy to help.

Bodies that come to Recompose must not be embalmed. While most funeral homes are experienced with transporting bodies, they may not yet have heard of human composting or have experience with this kind of transport. If you have any questions or need help finding a transporting funeral home, Recompose staff can help you at (206) 800-8733.

Our article, How to Arrange for Transport to Recompose, also has information to help you.

Yes, you can donate your organs and choose human composting. Donated organs will be removed by medical professionals at the time of death. Once removal is complete, Recompose can pick up the body from the medical facility.

In most instances, body donation and human composting are not compatible. Bodies donated to medical schools and research projects are usually embalmed to extend the time during which they can be used. Bodies that are embalmed cannot undergo human composting.

If you expect a death soon, please call us at (206) 800-8733. Precompose is designed primarily for planning in advance when a death is not expected for many years.

While the price for Recompose services will not increase for you as long as you pay consistently towards your balance, the price for transport outside the included counties will increase over time. This is to accommodate increases in gas and labor costs. For this reason we do not allow prepayment for transport.

If you live outside King, Pierce, or Snohomish counties, we recommend setting aside the current transport price plus an additional buffer for potential future increases. Recompose will bill your estate for the then-current transport price after your body has been transported to Recompose. You can see the current transport pricing in our General Price List.

Forms

You can request PDF copies of your completed forms at precompose@recompose.life.

You can change information on any Precompose form by submitting a new version of the form. We will consider your most recent version of the form to be your most up-to-date information.

Our system, Zoho, sends email reminders for any documents it considers “not completed.” Sometimes, if you click through to complete the document then click away, the Zoho system will create two different documents. This means that even if you completed a document once, Zoho may have created a few extra versions of the document and that’s what it’s sending you reminders about.

If you are getting document reminders in error, send us a note at precompose@recompose.life and our staff will delete the incomplete versions. You will get a “recall” email notification for the deleted incomplete documents.

Recompose uses the phrase “friends and family” to refer to the people who matter to you. Chosen friends and family can include non-biological kinship bonds, whether legally recognized or not.

Your “agent” is the person who is legally allowed to make decisions for your death care. They do not have to be a blood relation. If you do not designate an agent, the position of agent will automatically go to your legal next-of-kin. This is usually a spouse, a child or children, a parent or parents, or sibling or siblings, in that order. You can learn more in the How to Designate an Agent article.

Legal

Yes, you can purchase Precompose for another person. This is an important legal and personal decision, so we suggest talking about it with them first. Under certain circumstances, Recompose may be legally required to notify the person that you have created a trust for them. This notification requirement will not apply for children under 18 or for adults with a legal guardian.

Download the Precompose terms and conditions for the “purchasing for myself” option.

Washington State law requires Recompose to hold 90% of the money from the purchase of Precompose in a trust account. This money will be invested in low-risk investments and cannot ever be used in Recompose’s operations. Members paying monthly will receive periodic updates on how much they have paid into the trust.

The trust account where we hold your money will earn “accruals,” meaning interest, dividends, and/or an increase in value of stock or bonds or other investments. Because Recompose intends to use low-risk investments on trust funds, we expect these accruals to be very modest. You will be entitled to accruals on the trust if the balance exceeds the price of recomposition at the time the service is performed. If the $5,500 you have paid, plus the accruals, exceeds our then-current cost, your estate will be refunded any excess funds. Please note this instance is unlikely. The Recompose trust, like any funerary trust in Washington, is heavily regulated, and Washington State will receive yearly reports on the holdings and any accruals. They will not receive reports on individual accounts, so your individual account remains private to you.

Member Support

Yes, our team is happy to answer questions over the phone. Our phone number is (206) 800-8733. Our office hours are 10am to 4pm PT weekdays. Please note we have a small team, so you may need to leave a message and we will call you back as soon as we can.

We’re so sorry to hear you are having tech issues! We know our system is far from perfect and we are working constantly to improve your experience. Thank you for your patience as we make improvements. You can email us at precompose@recompose.life regarding your tech issue and we will work to resolve it. If you can, please include the browser and device you are working on so we can troubleshoot the issue. We find that our system works best on a desktop or laptop device rather than a tablet or phone. On weekdays, you can also give us a call at (206) 800-8733.

Pricing

When you sign up for Precompose, we guarantee the cost of your Recompose services at the time of your purchase as long as you pay off that price prior to your death. For example, the current price of the Recompose service is $5,500. If you sign up now and pay the full $5,500 or continue to make payments consistently before your death, no additional balance will be due even if the price has since gone up. Full details are included in the Precompose terms and conditions. The Recompose price includes transport from within King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. We also offer transport to our location from counties within Washington State for the fees listed on our current General Price List (GPL). Please note that the prices for transport from outside this range will increase over time to accommodate for increasing labor and gas prices.

You have two options for changing your credit card information. You can call us at (206) 800-8733 and we will change it for you, or our system Zoho will send you a link to update your card once it has been declined. There is no fee for late payments due to card changes or any other payment changes. We are also working on a login portal where you can view or change payment information yourself.

If you choose the $5,500 one-time payment, we welcome your payment by check. You will have a chance to select this option during the purchase process. Please mail your check to: Recompose, PO Box 12121, Seattle, WA 98102.

At this time, no. We are working on being able to accept additional payments soon. If you want to pay off the rest of your balance in a one-time payment, we can accommodate that request. You can also change your payment level (for example, from $25 to $100 per month) as often as every six months.

Recompose

Please see detailed information about why this process is needed and the science behind its safety and efficacy.

Our Services

Yes, Recompose is open now to accept bodies for human composting. Please call (206) 800-8733 for more information.

Our Facilities

The Recompose human composting facility is currently only open to licensed staff. We hope to be able to host tours in the future. You can see photos and learn more about our location in our Welcome to the Recompose Greenhouse article.

Yes, Recompose is a licensed funeral home. Our staff includes funeral directors and we provide transport, ceremonies, and funeral arrangements as well as human composting.

Recompose’s first location, the Greenhouse, is located in Kent, Washington. The facility is not open to the public. If you are a funeral home transferring to Recompose and need our address, please call (206) 800-8733. Our mailing address is: PO Box 12121, Seattle, WA 98102.

Our Company

Thank you for your interest in helping Recompose. Unfortunately, because Recompose is subject to employment laws, we are not eligible to take on volunteers or unpaid interns. We are grateful for your offer and are sorry to have to decline. There are a lot of great organizations doing similar work who can take volunteers, we suggest seeking out advocacy groups around ecological death care or hospice volunteer programs in your area. You can also check out our Jobs page or sign up for our newsletter to hear about potential future paid positions.

Thank you for your interest in covering Recompose. We have a small team and very limited availability for interviews. You are welcome to use the information on this website for your article with proper citation. If you can’t find the information you need or need images for your article, you can email media@recompose.life. Please note we do not participate in student, documentary, television, or film projects at this time.

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Land Acknowledgement

Recompose acknowledges we make our lives and livelihoods on the lands of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Duwamish People. We honor with gratitude the Duwamish People past and present, the land itself, and the Duwamish Tribe.

Colonization is an active, persistent process. Indigenous communities continue to be resilient in protecting their ecological and cultural lifeways and deathways despite ongoing oppression. Recompose respects, shares, and supports this commitment to climate healing and environmental justice. Join Recompose in contributing to Real Rent Duwamish.