Canada: Becoming part of the earth – Human composting gently turns remains into soil
Terramation, which is legal in six U.S. states but not approved in Canada, uses a fraction of the energy of cremation and requires no toxic chemicals.
By Denise Ryan
Jan 27, 2023
Although natural organic reduction is not approved in Canada, the process Return Home calls terramation has a uniquely Canadian connection. It was developed by Abbotsford soil scientist John Paul, who brought the science and a strong ethical framework to the table.
Paul, an expert in animal mortality composting — a method of managing livestock remains that protects the water table and limits carbon emissions — balked when Truman approached him in 2019 about developing a system for composting human remains.
Paul’s hesitation was in part because Truman came with a business mindset: He wanted to match what his competitors were advertising — claiming it could be done in 30 days, or less.
“I said if that’s the way you want to go, find someone else,” said Paul. “Technically speaking, it could be done in 30 days, but there would have to be significant manipulation of the body early on for that to happen.”
A truly organic process, with no manipulation of the body and no chemicals, would take at least two months.
“To respect the human body, and for the dignity of the family, we needed to commit to a process of letting the body rest in peace,” said Paul.
He was also mindful about the needs of bereaved families. Paul knew how important it would be for families to participate in the rituals of saying goodbye — something his own family had to advocate for within the traditional funeral industry when one of his children died at the age of six.
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