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Outside/In: Casket, cremation, or... human composting?

Guests demonstrate placing flowers on a shrouded mannequin in Recompose's Gathering Space. Decedents here are surrounded by wood chips and alfalfa, and placed in a special vessel that encourages decomposition.
Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images, courtesy of Recompose
Guests demonstrate placing flowers on a shrouded mannequin in Recompose's Gathering Space. Decedents here are surrounded by wood chips and alfalfa, and placed in a special vessel that encourages decomposition.

A lot of discussion about sustainability revolves around the trash and waste we leave behind. But at some point, every human being will die and leave behind a body.

So what should we do with it? Casket? Cremation? Compost? And does our choice actually have a meaningful impact on the soils and skies around us?

Today, we’ve got another edition of our segment, “This, That, or the Other Thing”, where Outside/In’s unofficial decomposition correspondent Felix Poon investigates how we can more sustainably rest in peace.

Mount Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge, MA, offers both traditional and green burial options and is a Mass Audubon Important Bird Area.
Credit: Ipickmynose (CC BY 2.0)
Mount Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge, MA, offers both traditional and green burial options and is a Mass Audubon Important Bird Area.

LINKS

Find how you can help with climate solutions by drawing your Climate Action Venn Diagram.

Learn more about Project Drawdown’s Drawdown Solutions Library.

Tag along on a visit to the Recompose human composting facility (Youtube).

Submit a question to the “Outside/Inbox.” We answer queries about the natural world, climate change, sustainability, and human evolution. You can send a voice memo to outsidein@nhpr.org or leave a message on our hotline, 1-844-GO-OTTER (844-466-8837).

Felix Poon first came to NHPR in 2020 as an intern, producing episodes for Outside/In, Civics 101, and The Second Greatest Show on Earth. He went to work for Gimlet Media’s How to Save a Planet before returning in 2021 as a producer for Outside/In. Felix’s Outside/In episode Ginkgo Love was featured on Spotify's Best Podcasts of 2020.
Outside/In is a show where curiosity and the natural world collide. Click here for podcast episodes and more.
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