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FAQ

If you have additional questions about Terramation, see below for more information. 

Frequently asked questions

Also known as “natural organic reduction,” terramation gently transforms human remains into nutrient-rich soil, just like the soil found at plant nurseries.

Our terramation process takes place inside individual pods, where a body is transformed into earth over a period of approximately 60 days. The pods are designed to optimize carbon, nitrogen, moisture, oxygen, and temperature to create the perfect environment for naturally occurring microbes to conduct the transformation. In the last step, we screen for inorganics so that the soil is entirely pure. The end result yields about one and a half cubic yards of fertile earth for the family to use as they see fit.

Terramation is ruled out only in rare cases where the cause of death is a prion-related illness, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or a highly infectious disease, like Ebola.

Yes, terramation is now legal in Washington State! In May 2019, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB5001 into law, which allows for natural organic reduction (“the contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil”) as a disposition option for human remains. The new law went into effect on May 1, 2020. 

Individuals and their families may decide how to use the soil. The soil is rich in life-giving nutrients and marvelously fertile, making it ideal for gardens and landscapes. Use it to create a memorial flower bed or to plant a tree. Return Home will pack up and deliver as much of the terramationed earth as desired. Any unclaimed earth will be donated to park departments, land trusts, and the like to improve soil health in the region.

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In many ways, terramation and cremation are opposites. Transforming our remains into living soil supports the flourishing of future life; converting them to ash breaks the cycle of life, sending our matter up in smoke.

Unfortunately, cremation comes with a host of environmental problems. For one, it is extremely energy-intensive: a single cremation burns about 30 gallons of fossil fuel, or enough to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back, and total U.S. cremations annually emit 250,000 tons of CO2. In addition, the cremation of dental fillings is a major contributor to mercury air pollution, releasing 2–4 grams of mercury per cremation, or about 5,000 pounds of mercury per year.

Terramation is not the same thing as “green burial.” Though green burial is a more earth-friendly disposition method, it still demands a plot in a graveyard at a time when we are rapidly running out of burial space. In the U.S. alone, it would require roughly 130 square miles of additional grave space every year to bury all our dead, which is clearly not sustainable. Terramation solves the land constraint problem by bypassing the graveyard.

Terramation services are now available.  Please contacts us for assistance with any immediate needs you may have.

We are located at 4146 B Pl NW, Auburn WA 98001. Feel free to come by and say hi!

Guests will be warmly welcomed at Return Home’s facility. Contact us to set up a time to visit. A member of our team will be happy to take you through the facility and explain how our service works.

Should terramation be important, be sure to communicate this clearly to family and to stipulate the wish for terramation in a will.

No special permit is required for terramation.

Return Home has a mezzanine space that can be used as a celebration space for groups of 30 people and under. Please call us to discuss.

Yes, we will make every effort to accommodate the individual requests of each family.

As per Washington State law, our facility employs a licensed funeral director on site.  Our Terramation services team is highly trained not only in our specific process, but to work in compliance with all relevant regulations.

We are happy to work with the funeral home of your choice.  Please have them contact us. 

Yes, long-distance transportation will be available from third party providers for people from outside of Washington State. Check with us for details.

While Return Home cannot be responsible for out-of-state shipments, once the family has taken custody of the decedent’s soil, it is theirs to do with as they wish so long as all applicable state and federal laws are followed.

We are delighted to partner with a variety of companies, from funeral homes to long-distance carriers. Please contact us and we will respond promptly.

Frequently asked questions

Also known as “natural organic reduction,” terramation gently transforms human remains into nutrient-rich soil, just like the soil found at plant nurseries.

Our terramation process takes place inside individual pods, where a body is transformed into earth over a period of approximately 60 days. The pods are designed to optimize carbon, nitrogen, moisture, oxygen, and temperature to create the perfect environment for naturally occurring microbes to conduct the transformation. In the last step, we screen for inorganics so that the soil is entirely pure. The end result yields about one and a half cubic yards of fertile earth for the family to use as they see fit.

Terramation is ruled out only in rare cases where the cause of death is a prion-related illness, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob, or a highly infectious disease, like Ebola.

Yes, terramation is now legal in Washington State! In May 2019, Governor Jay Inslee signed SB5001 into law, which allows for natural organic reduction (“the contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil”) as a disposition option for human remains. The new law went into effect on May 1, 2020. 

Individuals and their families may decide how to use the soil. The soil is rich in life-giving nutrients and marvelously fertile, making it ideal for gardens and landscapes. Use it to create a memorial flower bed or to plant a tree. Return Home will pack up and deliver as much of the terramationed earth as desired. Any unclaimed earth will be donated to park departments, land trusts, and the like to improve soil health in the region.

.

In many ways, terramation and cremation are opposites. Transforming our remains into living soil supports the flourishing of future life; converting them to ash breaks the cycle of life, sending our matter up in smoke.

Unfortunately, cremation comes with a host of environmental problems. For one, it is extremely energy-intensive: a single cremation burns about 30 gallons of fossil fuel, or enough to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back, and total U.S. cremations annually emit 250,000 tons of CO2. In addition, the cremation of dental fillings is a major contributor to mercury air pollution, releasing 2–4 grams of mercury per cremation, or about 5,000 pounds of mercury per year.

Terramation is not the same thing as “green burial.” Though green burial is a more earth-friendly disposition method, it still demands a plot in a graveyard at a time when we are rapidly running out of burial space. In the U.S. alone, it would require roughly 130 square miles of additional grave space every year to bury all our dead, which is clearly not sustainable. Terramation solves the land constraint problem by bypassing the graveyard.

Terramation services are now available.  Please contacts us for assistance with any immediate needs you may have.

We are located at 4146 B Pl NW, Auburn WA 98001. Feel free to come by and say hi!

Guests will be warmly welcomed at Return Home’s facility. Contact us to set up a time to visit. A member of our team will be happy to take you through the facility and explain how our service works.

Should terramation be important, be sure to communicate this clearly to family and to stipulate the wish for terramation in a will.

No special permit is required for terramation.

Return Home has a mezzanine space that can be used as a celebration space for groups of 30 people and under. Please call us to discuss.

Yes, we will make every effort to accommodate the individual requests of each family.

As per Washington State law, our facility employs a licensed funeral director on site.  Our Terramation services team is highly trained not only in our specific process, but to work in compliance with all relevant regulations.

We are happy to work with the funeral home of your choice.  Please have them contact us. 

Yes, long-distance transportation will be available from third party providers for people from outside of Washington State. Check with us for details.

While Return Home cannot be responsible for out-of-state shipments, once the family has taken custody of the decedent’s soil, it is theirs to do with as they wish so long as all applicable state and federal laws are followed.

We are delighted to partner with a variety of companies, from funeral homes to long-distance carriers. Please contact us and we will respond promptly.