New York just became the latest U.S. state to approve human composting, as reported by The NY Post.
NY Governor Kathy Hochul signed the legislation this past Saturday, December 31, making New York the sixth state to allow for it–Washington was the first U.S. state to legalize it back in 2019, followed by Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and California.
Also known as “natural organic reduction,” human composting is exactly as it sounds–it’s the process of turning your body into soil after death.
The practice allows the body to decompose over several weeks, and it’s actually the most environmentally-friendly alternative to burial or cremation since it cuts down on carbon emissions which contribute to the greenhouse effect.
Human composting also avoids the need of consuming wood and other natural resources as in traditional burial, and is a more practical option in places where land for cemeteries is in short supply.
The process happens in special above-ground facilities.
The body is first put into a closed vessel with natural materials such as wood chips, alfalfa, and straw where microbes are allowed to gradually break down the body. After 30 days the contents are screened for inorganic material and undergo a heating process to kill off any potential contaminants. After another 30 days, loved ones are given the resulting soil.
The soil created from the process, which equals out to about 36 bags worth, is nutrient-dense and can be used in planting flowers, vegetables, and trees, or used to enrich existing vegetation.
NY’s stamp of approval was a “huge step” for some eco-friendly companies, including Washington-based funeral service Return Home that offers human composting.
Micah Truman, CEO of Return Home, told The Post, “Return Home is incredibly excited about New York’s recent human composting legalization. This is a huge step for accessible green death care nationwide.”
Others aren’t too keen on the idea, however.
Catholic bishops opposed the legislation on an ethical standpoint, stating that “Composting and fertilizing may be appropriate for vegetable clippings or eggshells, but not for our mortal remains.”
What are your thoughts on it?