Close up of a woman's face on the beach

Human Elements

The world of science is full of facts and figures, but behind the study are the people. In the end, it becomes a question not of how they do science — but why.

The WA funeral home that can turn you into a tree

At Recompose in Seattle, Katrina Spade offers a low-emission alternative to traditional burial or cremation: human composting.

Katrina Spade turns people into soil. At Recompose, a Washington funeral home, Spade offers an alternative to traditional burial and cremation — human composting. Recompose uses wood chips, alfalfa and straw to break down the body into a material much like typical garden soil.

The process takes 1/8 the energy output of conventional burial or cremation, and saves one metric ton of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Spade hopes that this can have a small but meaningful impact on the environment — the death of one organism nurturing the life of another.