Decomposing human remains can legally be used as compost soon thanks to new law

Emily Brown

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Decomposing human remains can legally be used as compost soon thanks to new law

Featured Image Credit: Cultura RM / mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

A California Governor has cleared the way for human remains to be used as compost by the deceased person's family, thanks to the introduction of a new law.

The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and signed this week by Gov. Gavin Newsom, making California the fourth state after Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Vermont to allow human composting.

It's an alternative type of burial method which takes place after death, and might be more appealing to those who prefer the thought of being out in nature over being buried in a coffin.

The compost can be used in gardens. Credit: Pixabay
The compost can be used in gardens. Credit: Pixabay

Garcia was inspired to put the bill forward through working as a 'caretaker', telling ABC7: "For me this is personal... I've had to have these discussions with my family members about end-of-life and their wishes and their desires.

"I'm excited that we're doing something that for some individuals it's about that experience they want to share with loved ones once they pass away."

Rather than going through the process of being cremated and allowing family members to scatter ashes, human composting will allow loved ones to use the remains of the deceased to, for example, help their garden flourish, once the bill comes into play.

The method sees human remains naturally decompose in a vessel over a 30-to-45-day period before being turned into soil, which can be used as compost. It can then be returned to family members or donated to conservation land as an environmentally-friendly alternative to exiting end-of-life options.

Garcia explained: "When we have a coffin and we put that into the ground, there's a lot of chemicals that get leaked into the ground and often times it ends up in our water. When we do cremation there's a lot of carbon emissions."

Human composting is an environmentally-friendly alternative to existing methods. Credit: Pixabay
Human composting is an environmentally-friendly alternative to existing methods. Credit: Pixabay

Micah Truman, CEO of Return Home in Washington, said the option gives people a chance to restart the cycle of life, though noted that loved ones will have to abide by the same rules as cremated remains when it comes to using the compost.

"What we do when we die is the last thing that happens on this planet, and it's really important that our last act on this planet is one that gives back to it," he told ABC.

Though the option is said to be growing in popularity, it has received some backlash from groups like California Catholic Conference, who have argued it creates a lack of dignity toward the human body.

California residents will be able to consider human composting as an end-of-life option from 2027.

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Topics: News, US News, Health

Emily Brown
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