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Would you compost a loved one? More and more states approve human composting


New York became the sixth state to legalize this method, considered by some to be a greener alternative to burials and cremations. We tell you what it consists of.

The governor of New York, the Democrat Kathy Hochul, signed a law this weekend to legalize the natural organic reduction of corpses, a process also known as human composting and that seeks to transform the bodies into organic fertilizer.

New York thus became the sixth state in the country to legalize this practice, which

its defenders consider a greener alternative to burials and cremations.

Washington was the first to approve human composting (2019), followed by Colorado and Oregon (2021) and Vermont and California (2022).

The politicians who promoted the law in New York, Democratic Rep. Amy Paulin and Sen. Leroy Comrie from the same party, said the measure will help the state reduce carbon emissions that have led to global warming.

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The process, also known as

"natural organic reduction

," involves letting the body decompose for several weeks after being locked up in a container.

Thus it is quickly transformed into fertile soil with the help of microorganisms.

“Cremation uses fossil fuels and burial takes up a lot of space and leaves a carbon footprint,” Katrina Spade, founder of Recompose, a company that offers human composting in Seattle, Washington, told The Associated Press news agency.

“For many people, becoming soil that can be used to grow plants in a garden or a tree is quite significant.”

According to Recompose, human composting can save up to a ton of carbon, compared to cremation.

File image with a 'dummy' doll of what a green burial looks like at Recompose Funeral Home in Seattle, Washington, on October 6, 2022.Mat Hayward / Getty Images for Recompose

How exactly does it work?

The process for composting a human body is as follows: The deceased is placed in a reusable container along with plant material such as wood shavings, alfalfa, and straw.

The organic blend creates the perfect habitat for the microbes that live in the human body to do their job,

breaking it down quickly and efficiently in about 60 days.

Halfway through the process, the remains are screened for inorganic material, including dentures, as they may contain environmentally toxic metal amalgams.

The remaining bones are pulverized and placed in the container for another 30 days.

The end result is a cubic yard of nutrient-rich soil given to the deceased's next of kin, who can use the equivalent of about 36 bags of soil to plant trees, enrich conservation lands, forests or gardens.

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A cheaper alternative

Human composting has become a preferred alternative, not only for its ecological benefits, but because space in cemeteries in states like New York is often limited and the cost of a funeral does not exceed that of an average burial.

Recompose's fee, for example, is about $7,000, comparable to what is charged on average for a funeral with burial or cremation, according to data consulted by the British news network BBC.

What do the critics say?

However, not everyone agrees that it is a better funeral alternative.

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The New York Conference of Bishops, a group representing the state's Catholic bishops, has long opposed the bill passed Saturday, calling the burial method "inappropriate."

"A process that is perfectly appropriate for returning plant remains to the earth is not necessarily appropriate for human bodies," Dennis Poust, the organization's executive director, said in a statement.

"Human bodies are not organic waste and we do not believe that the process complies with the reverential treatment that should be given to our earthly remains," he added.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-01-03

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