Human Composting

For many years the funeral industry has only provided two options to choose from for those who have lost a loved one, burial or cremation, neither of which are earth friendly. For those wishing to choose an end of life option that allows their final act on earth to be one that gives back, a new process known as human composting or Terramation is rapidly becoming the green option of choice for many families.

What Is Human Composting?

Human composting (otherwise known as Terramation) gently transforms human remains into nutrient-rich soil that can be used to promote new life.

Return Home™ has a unique human composting process that will then allow the soil to be returned home to the family. Every person is created uniquely as therefore the human composting process can have varinging timelines based on the makeup of the individual. Return Home’s™ human composting process takes roughly 60 days to complete and creates between one and one-and-one-half cubic yards of soil that can be used for returning to gardens, landscapes, or other scattering grounds as the family desires. This also allows for many family and friends to receive terramated remains to create a memorial that is fit for the memories they have.

The Phases of Human Composting

Human composting is a two stage process, and takes approximately 60 days to complete. These are the phases the person goes through during the human composting process.


1. Laying in.

During this stage the person is laid on a bed of beautiful organic materials such as straw, alfalfa and sawdust. Dressed in custom made compostable garments, the family are able to offer their loved one a final farewell and place with them things that are meaningful, such as flowers, candy, letters and photos. The Terramation process will then begin. During this time the natural microbes in the body will cause the temperature to rise in the vessel to between 131 and 150 degrees for anywhere from 3 to 15 days, allowing the transformation into soil to take place. Once the temperature in the vessel drops below a certain level we know that it is time to move on to screening.

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2. Screening.

Once the body has completely transformed into soil any inorganic materials are screened from the soil and recycled, this would include joint replacements, stents and screws.,Next teeth and bones are broken down further to be re-introduced to the soil to complete the Terramation process.

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3. Resting.

At this point in the human composting process the soil needs to rest and cool for a further 30 days before being ready to return home.Any soil the family can’t take with them can be donated to our Woodland property to nourish the local flora.

Once these phases are complete, the nutrient-rich soil is returned home to your family as desired. We use breathable burlap bags to hold the soil and use no chemicals during the process.

Why Consider Human Composting?

Did you know that the amount of energy consumed during a cremation is about the equivalent of 30 gallons of gas and a single cremation releases about 530lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere? Any nutrients that the body contains are blown up the smoke stack as greenhouse gas. Traditional burial methods are equally harmful to the planet due to the various chemicals and wood used to embalm and make caskets. The funeral industry has separated the body from the earth with layers of concrete and rebar, and the body is not given the opportunity to break down naturally.

In fact, traditional burial methods call for the placement of some 20 million feet of wood, 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid, and 1.6 million tons of concrete to be placed in the earth in a way that adds nothing of value or benefit. Human composting allows for memorialization without perpetual land use. 

We believe this service is the perfect option for those who want to make their last act on Earth one that gives back. Additionally, this memorial method relieves the financial burden of traditional burial for family members. There is no need to purchase a casket and a plot of land in which you can be buried. We also encourage you to plan ahead and tell your family of your desire to be transformed into living earth. By having these important conversations you spare them the agony of guessing your end of life preferences.

Return Home’s™ human composting process is unique in that we encourage family and friends to be as involved as much or as little as they wish. This starts with the ritual bathing of the person and dressing them in the custom compostable garment, being present for the laying in process and placing with them mementos that are important to their memory such as letters, flowers, photos and candy. Return Home™ also allows for families to visit the center as their loved one moves through the first 30 days of their journey. The vessels are able to be decorated with photos and other items to create a unique memorial.  

Human composting allows families to make death care decisions that help make our world a better place. Learn more about Return Home™ by clicking the button below.

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