New York State Funeral Directors Association

It’s not a huge revelation to say that a lot of people have an internal yearning to come up with something new – whether it’s needed or not.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter what activity people engage in - there’s always somebody out there looking to come up with a new way to do it – and burial of our beloved is not immune.

Global Warming, climate change or whatever else you might call it, seems to be one of the biggest drivers in recent “new thought” as it relates to our dead.

And this “Urban Death Project” fermenting in North America is a prime example.

Image shows compost in cart with RIP Grandma on itDespite the fact that it’s considered new and industrious and “Green,” I cannot empathize with people who think it will ever be appropriate to stuff Grandma into a linen sack and toss her on top of a pile of #Unliving people in a silo.

I just can’t imagine knowing that someday Grandma would be part of what falls into a bucket at the bottom of this burial silo which folks at the Urban Death Project hope, one day, to open up to the public.

Human composting, they’re calling it. Turning people into a dark, rich fertilizer ideal for nourishing tulips or the cabbage and Brussels sprouts growing in backyard gardens.

I think I’ll call it “Earthling shame” – that guilt people are experiencing knowing that they’re causing an impact on the air and the dirt.

I’m trying unsuccessfully to empathize with those who spend years enduring the anguish knowing that they’ve been exhaling Ozone layer-killing carbon dioxide every single day.

The whole project to turn human beings into a “rich compost” seems to me more of a quest for newness than a realistic brainstorming aimed at curing a serious problem.

An article I read mentioned the possibility of including human composting in a new burial site they’re building in “Kelowna.”

I’d never heard of it before so I made the quick assumption this must be some desolate, desert-like area filled with rocks and overcrowded with buildings and the lack of greenspace and no wood for cremation.

What did I find on the Google map? A massive, lush green piece of North American landscape with what looks to me like plenty of space to bury people or cremate them and place them respectfully in a columbarium.

This place Kelowna – incorporated only 110 years ago – has more than seven times the land available to bury the dead than my hometown city in Upstate New York that turned 354 years old in 2015.

Kelowna has a land mass of 214 square kilometers compared with about 28.23 square kilometers in Schenectady -- and only two times as many people.

It makes me wonder, are folks at the Urban Death Project sure they’re working on something that needs to be fixed?

COPPER COMES FROM PLANET EARTH

Their website describes a variety of things they’re looking to keep from being buried – like hardwood, steel, copper, concrete and other things.

I’m sorry, but didn’t we dig all of this stuff up out of the ground in the first place? Or, in the case of hardwood, didn’t we find it growing out of the ground?

In my view, we haven’t created anything here that we should be ashamed of, including our bodies.

Even chemicals are made up of things we found on this planet. Our physical, human growth was built by things from this planet, like rice and beans.

We should not be ashamed of breathing, living or dying on this planet. We should be proud of ourselves and our ancestors and we should keep them in our hearts and minds – not in the rose garden.

Image shows a fertilizer truck dumping, with Lovin' Earth Burials  written on itRealistically, the only way to entirely eliminate our impact on Earth is to cast our beloved dead out into space, perhaps sending them to the Moon or to Mars.

That would surely create a new subset of people concerned with our impact on the Moon and Mars.

I’m not advocating, in any way, being “irresponsible” with nature. I recycle my old newspapers and tin cans most of the time.

But nothing I will ever do can reverse the tons of noxious chemicals spewed into the air every time a volcano explodes, or replace the massive square mileage of dirt that gets washed away every time there’s a Tsunami.

I would feel like I was doing something for Humanity if I took part in memorializing those who have lived – like the millions killed suddenly by earthquakes and volcanos and tornados and hurricanes and tsunamis – all actions this lovely Earth takes without warning or remorse.

I take the side of Human Beings – I’ll let others draw a line in the compost and say they’re standing up for Planet Earth.

I really don’t think there’s a problem in North America that calls for massive human silos and the need to recycle people to feed dandelions.

What does the local government up there in Canada think? Well they’re calling their city “one of the most liveable cities in Canada,” on their website. That doesn’t scream out “we’ve got too many dead people” to me.

So here’s my problem: there is no problem in Kelowna.

Not like in Manila, in the Philippines, where there’s so many families with no place to live they’ve taken up residence in a massive old cemetery. There, you can see kids playing on top of tombs, moms sitting on cold stone with clean laundry blowing in the wind from clothes lines draped over graves.

They’re having trouble finding places for the living people to stay - so I’d have to concede that they’re facing an issue with where to put the #Unliving too.

That is a situation worth addressing.

Kelowna does not look to me like one of the places that cries out for a solution to what people do with their loved ones after they die.

And I don’t think I’ll find a place where I’ll ever consider it appropriate to stack our loved ones and let them rot in a pile in order to feed plant life.

And now I’ve got another request to tack on to my final plans – I do not want to be turned into fertilizer after I die. I want all of me – including a nice pair of brand new shoes – to slowly dissolve back into the Earth where I came from in the first place.


EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association