Even when we’re dead, most Americans keep adding to our carbon footprints. Can the rituals around death be redesigned to become more sustainable?
With her Urban Death Project, designer Katrina Spade has been working on a greener alternative for the last three years. Along with the environmental issues, the design also considers the problem of space—cemeteries in the U.S. take up about a million acres of land, and as populations grow, even more space is needed. Spade wanted to find an answer that would allow people to be buried in cities.
The design uses composting to turn bodies into soil-building material for nearby farms and community gardens, so people literally become part of the city they once lived in. A four-story building, which Spade envisions being built in neighborhoods across a city, would serve both as composter and a place for ritual, where family members could see the deceased person for the last time. The composting process would take about two years.