Katrina Spade, Founder of Human Composting, Coming to Vashon


Washington became the first state to legalize “human composting” on May 21, when Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law that will allow human bodies to be converted into soil in licensed facilities.  On Thursday, September 19, 7:00 p.m., Katrina Spade, the innovative entrepreneur who created a system called “recomposition” that transforms human bodies into soil, will be speaking at Vashon High School.

Spade grew up in rural New Hampshire, earned a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, then turned her focus to sustainable design.  While earning a Master of Architecture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst she, invented a system to transform the dead into soil.

In considering her own mortality, Spade wanted options that were environmentally sustainable and allowed family and friends to participate in the care of their loved one.  In 2018, she founded Recompose, a public-benefit corporation, that is developing a patent pending process to gently convert human remains to soil. It seeks to create a scalable and sustainable alternative to conventional burial, particularly for urban dwellers. The modular system uses nature’s principles to return our bodies to the earth, sequestering carbon, reducing toxic materials buried in the earth and improving soil health. Recompose has calculated carbon savings of over a metric ton per person.

When the law takes effect in May 2020, Spade intends to open her first facility in Seattle. This innovative idea has captured the imagination of many.  Recompose has received press coverage in all major newspapers, The New Yorker, CityLab, Forbes, NBC News and NPR.  As a result, there are inquiries and interest from all over the United States and beyond, with a growing email list of nearly 13,000 people.

In Spade’s vision, we would have a dozen options for disposition in the next 10 years or so, because she thinks that’s really what we as a diverse and creative society deserve.  She believes that death care is an essential part of life. In addition to creating a system that will gently return us to the earth, Recompose encourages participation and strives to make the experience transparent and meaningful for everyone. From having a home funeral to the care of a loved one’s body after death, her new model will encourage the participation of families and friends during this profound human event.

Katrina Spade is in great demand.  We are extremely fortunate that she is coming to Vashon to share her vision.  Thanks to a generous anonymous donor and our sponsors, Vashon Market IGA, Pandora’s Box Pet Products and Neighborcare Health, the Vashon Conversation for the Living about Dying is able to offer the event free.  Donations will be gratefully accepted to cover additional expenses.  Please join us on September 19 to hear Katrina and to learn about the future of human composting.  For more information, visit the Recompose website:  www.recompose.life or Vashon Conversation for Living and Dying:  www.vashonconversation.org