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California becomes fifth state to legalise human composting

The state of California has become the fifth to legalise burial processes that naturally reduce human remains to fertile soil. The idea is becoming increasingly popular and the reality is way greener than cremation.

If you weren’t already thinking about death on this glum Tuesday afternoon, we’ve got your back – not like the Grim Reaper.

We’ve previously discussed the idea of ‘human compost’ at length, which if you didn’t know is exactly as it sounds.

A green alternative to current methods of body disposal, like cremations or coffin burials, this innovative (and granted, barmy) process involves converting our dead into fertile soil which can be put to good use. From dirt to dirt, and all that.

This is achieved by placing the deceased in a steel box and covering them with biodegradable material such as wood chips, straw, and flowers. Over the following 30 to 60 days, the body will naturally break down into a form of nutrient soil before being returned to relatives or donated.

Compared to cremations, which account for over half of our send-off ceremonies, the whole process releases far less carbon dioxide and harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.

It also avoids taking up agricultural space, with approximately 140,000 acres in the US dedicated to cemeteries alone. Not to mention the sizable amounts of embalming fluid, steel, and concrete that mess with the ground’s organic balance.

Wanting to offer more ecological options, California lawmakers are the latest to approve human composting – following in the footsteps of Washington, Colorado, Vermont, and Oregon – as general demand for the service continues to grow.

Micah Truman, CEO of one such business in Seattle, revealed that interest is so palpable that customers from 12 different states have travelled across country to their establishment in recent months.

In the build-up to becoming certified, there had been staunch opposition from the state’s Catholic community, with assertions that composting people ‘reduces the human body to simply a disposable commodity.’ Ultimately, these objections failed to prevent the bill from going ahead.

Contrary to these beliefs, many folk pursuing this solution feel as though it’s the socially responsible thing to do. In life, we wish to limit our individual impact on the climate where possible, and this is just another decision to be made.

It’s something of a bonus that there are several practical benefits to human composting too.

Costs for this service typically run between $5,000 and $7,000, which is pretty similar to the price of cremations and usually less than a casket burial. Generally, making the sustainable choice in life inadvertently means forking over more readies, but that isn’t the case here.

Above all, if you ask me, there’s something quite poetic about returning to the Earth in death to help support life elsewhere. A final parting gift.


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