Washington State may become the first state, and even the first place in the world, to allow human remains to be reduced to soil or “recomposition.” Proponents of the bill argue that recomposition is more environmentally friendly than traditional methods of burial and cremation. For the complete article, follow our link to the New York Times. Read More.
Washington State Weighs New Option After Death: Human Composting
By Kirk Johnson | NY Times
Leslie Christian recently added unusual language to her living will: After death, she hoped her remains would be reduced to soil and spread around to help out some flowers, or a tree. In essence, compost.
“It seems really gentle,” said Ms. Christian, 71, a financial adviser. “Comforting and natural.”
A bill before the Washington State Legislature would make this state the first in the nation — and probably the world, legal experts said — to explicitly allow human remains to be disposed of and reduced to soil through composting, or what the bill calls recomposition.
The prospect has drawn no public opponents in the state capital as yet, but it is a concept that sometimes raises eyebrows. Funeral directors say a common reaction to the idea, which has been explored and tested in recent scientific studies, is to cringe.
“There’s almost a revulsion at times, when you talk about human composting,” said Brian Flowers, the managing funeral director at Moles Farewell Tributes, a company north of Seattle that supports the bill.
In truth, composting is an ancient and basic method of body disposal. A corpse in the ground without embalming chemicals or a coffin, or in a quickly biodegradable coffin, becomes soil over time.
But death certificates in many states include a box that must be checked for burial or cremation, with no other options. Aboveground composting, through a mortuary process that requires no burial or burning of remains, is a new category without regulation about how it should be done or what can be done with the compost. What that means is that hardly any funeral director — even in states where laws about human remains are loosely worded — would risk offering it without state permission. Continue Reading