In an era where discussions around sustainable living are growing, the conversation is naturally extending to what happens after we die. Traditionally, options were limited to burial and cremation, both with their own ecological drawbacks. Enter Return Home, a company that provides an alternative: Terramation, or human composting. This green funeral service seeks to gently transform human remains into fertile soil, offering a sustainable last act on Earth.
Return Home Before Shark Tank
Micah Truman, a Seattle-native and serial entrepreneur, founded Return Home in January 2019 with a deep-rooted desire to contribute positively to the world. His diverse background includes over 25 years of experience leading rapidly growing companies, both in the United States and internationally. Truman’s journey into this unique sector of the funeral industry was not a solo endeavor. He formed an eclectic team of professionals including funeral directors, HVAC specialists, engineers, death doulas, general contractors, and soil scientists to actualize his vision.
The idea for the company was initially sparked through a conversation between Truman and his mother, Lexi, catalyzed by groundbreaking legislation in Washington state that was making natural organic reduction a legal possibility. From this initial spark, the idea grew into a researched, developed, and eventually operational business that officially opened its doors to the public in June 2021. Micah Truman views his work with Return Home as one of the great privileges of his life, a sentiment echoed by the remarkable families they serve.
Overview of Process
Return Home offers a spectrum of services designed to be as inclusive as possible. As a full-service green funeral home, the company provides both immediate need and pre-need human composting services. One of their unique offerings is the in-person or online laying-in service, which allows friends and family to be part of the laying-in of their loved one. The service is available to families in 49 U.S. states and all of Canada.
The core of Return Home’s service is its Terramation process, conducted in the world’s first large-scale Terramation center featuring 74 custom-designed vessels. This process uses alfalfa, straw, sawdust, and time to gently transform human remains into fertile soil within 60 days. It starts with “laying in,” where families can bid their loved ones farewell and even adorn them with items of sentimental value. This is followed by Terramation, where oxygen stimulates microbes in the body to rapidly convert the body into soil in 30 days. After this, the soil is left to rest and cool for another 30 days.
The resulting soil can either be returned to the family or scattered at The Woodland, an 8-acre area dedicated to revitalizing local flora. The Terramation process yields about 1.5 cubic yards of soil per body, enough to fill 10-15 burlap bags. Importantly, the process has a low carbon footprint, as it requires little energy and sequesters most of the resulting carbon in the soil.
Families also have the option to be involved at every step, including activities like driving their loved one to the facility or even giving a final hair wash in Return Home’s serene bathing room. The company’s facility is designed to be a comforting space for families, featuring murals, a building-wide sound system for playing meaningful music, and a lush environment symbolizing the continuation of life.
Return Home is more than a service—it’s a community dedicated to offering a respectful, transparent, and ethical alternative to traditional post-death practices. In doing so, it is fostering a new culture of deathcare that reflects the growing societal emphasis on sustainability and respect for the Earth.