What is Terramation?
By: Team Earth
Apr 12, 2022 | Green Funeral Practice3 min read
Sustainable funerals are increasing in popularity, with NFDA research finding that more than 60% of people are interested in exploring green options. They are also growing rapidly in terms of availability, with environmentally-friendly funeral choices now open to more Americans than ever before.
This growing movement has given rise to new terms like ‘terramation’, ‘aquamation’ and ‘recomposition’. This terminology can be confusing, especially given a lot of these words actually refer to much the same thing. It’s common across all industries for innovative processes to go by a number of names to begin with, but this can sometimes make researching different options difficult.
This article aims to bring some clarity to green funeral terminology. As part of this, it will answer some of the key questions about ‘terramation’, explaining what the process is, how it works and how much it costs.
Is terramation the same as human composting?
Yes. Human composting is known by a number of different names, one of which is terramation. While the processes of different human composting providers will look slightly different and often go by different names, the underlying idea is the same - a body is gently transformed into soil using the principles of nature.
Other terms for human composting
There are a number of terms used to refer to human composting. The first is the term which is used in legislation - ‘natural organic reduction’. There are then some terms which are just variations of these core terms, the most common of which are ‘body composting’ and ‘natural reduction’.
Finally there are a number of names which human composting providers have given their specific version of human composting, which have then developed into more general use (to varying extents). These include terramation and recomposition. At Earth, we call our proprietary natural organic reduction process soil transformation.
An alternative green funeral option is alkaline hydrolysis. Like human composting, this process has a number of synonyms. These include ‘water cremation’, ‘biocremation’, ‘resomation’ and ‘flameless cremation’.
How does terramation work?
The terramation process optimizes the conditions for naturally occurring microbes and beneficial bacteria to break down the body over a 30 to 45 day period. The body is placed into a vessel which produces these conditions, which are a recreation of those found in the natural world. The end result is healthy soil which can be used for memorialization and conservation purposes. As a net carbon neutral process with an output that is actively positive to the environment, human composting appeals to those concerned about their impact on the planet. Many people find beauty in the terramation process, seeing it as a return home to nature.
How much does terramation cost?
The cost of terramation ranges from just under $5,000 to just over $7,000. Terramation cost is influenced by factors such as location and choice of provider. Cost will also vary based on what’s included in the package. It’s important to check what is and isn’t included before comparing prices, as is the case with any form of funeral services.
Where is terramation legal?
Terramation is legal in six states. Washington was the first state to legalize the process back in 2019 and since then others have followed suit. The most recent states to pass legislation allowing terramation were California and New York, joining Oregon, Vermont and Colorado.
We keep a terramation tracker updated with legislative progress across the US. You can use this to find out whether terramation is available near you.
Return home to nature
At Earth, we call our human composting process soil transformation. While we do not use the term terramation, the underlying concept is the same. Our process gently transforms a body into healthy, nutrient-rich soil over the course of 30 to 45 days.
Earth’s soil transformation takes place in state-of-the-art facilities which offer a calm and serene environment for the process. Our facilities are powered by renewable electric energy sources and the process is net carbon neutral.
Families choose how much soil they would like returned, which they can then use for memorialization purposes. The rest is sent to our conservation land for use on restoration projects. Healthy soil is paramount to a healthy ecosystem, filtering water, providing nutrients to plants and animals, and sequestering carbon. Soil donation therefore ensures both a beautiful resting place and a meaningful contribution to the planet.
An environmentally-friendly option, human composting appeals to nature lovers and those who wish to preserve the planet for future generations. If you like the idea of a return home to the natural world, you can get an instant human composting quote.