New York approves composting with human remains

New York approves composting with human remains

New York is the latest US state to approve what is known as human composting.

People can now have their bodies turned into organic compost for compost, which is seen as a sustainable alternative to burial or cremation.

Also known as “natural organic reduction,” the practice involves allowing the body to decompose in an enclosed space over several weeks.

In 2019, Washington became the first US state to legalize the process. Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and California followed suit.

New York has become the sixth American jurisdiction to allow human composting after the state’s governor, Democrat Kathy Hochul, sanctioned the legislation last Saturday (December 31).

The procedure is carried out in special aboveground facilities.

The body is placed in a closed compartment with selected organic matter, such as wood chips, alfalfa and grass straw, and gradually decomposes under the action of microbes.

After a period of about a month and a heating process to remove any impurities, the relatives receive the resulting earth. The compost can be used to plant flowers, vegetables or trees.

An American company called Recompose claims their service can save a ton of carbon compared to a traditional cremation or funeral.

Carbon dioxide emissions are one of the main factors contributing to climate change because they trap the earth’s heat in a phenomenon known as the greenhouse effect.

Traditional burials that involve a coffin also use wood, earth, and other natural resources.

Proponents of human composting say it’s not only a more sustainable option, but also more practical in cities where land designated for cemeteries is limited.

New York’s approval of the process is “a major step toward an affordable green death nationally,” a Washington provider of the service, called Return Home, told the New York Post.

But for some people there are ethical questions about what happens to the composted soil.

New York State’s Catholic bishops opposed the legislation, arguing that human bodies should not be treated as “household waste.”

1  Instagram/Disclosure  Instagram/Disclosure

Image of the coffin used in the human composting process by North American company Recompose Life

Image: Instagram/Disclosure

Concerns have also been raised about the cost of composting. But Recompose, whose Seattle facility is one of the first in the world, says its $7,000 price point is “comparable” to competing options.

The median price for a funeral in the US in 2021 was $7,848; and $6,971 for cremation, according to the National Association of Funeral Directors (NFDA).

Human composting is already legal throughout Sweden. And natural burials, where the body is buried without a coffin or with a biodegradable coffin, are allowed in Britain.

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