After death: Washington state set to become the first to allow human composting


Seattleites will likely soon have a unique option to remember their loved ones after they die.

Washington state is set to become the first to allow “natural organic reduction” as a burial alternative — commonly referred to as human composting — as a bill legalizing the process was approved by the legislature and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk.

The process will turn a body into soil within weeks, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Democratic Sen. Jamie Pedersen of Seattle sponsored the bill because he said it makes sense — it’s a low environmental impact way to dispose of remains.

“We can show the way for the world about a better way in dealing with this universal human experience,” Pedersen said in a tweet.

One Seattle-based company, called Recompose, developed a method to turn bodies into soil so those who have passed can give back to the Earth. In an interview with Forbes, founder and CEO Katrina Spade said currently, Americans are largely faced with two options after death: cremation and burial.

“Both practices poison the planet — this struck me as the wrong punctuation for lives lived in harmony with nature,” Spade told Forbes.

Burial takes up a lot of space, and those buried can “own” their plots forever, which is not sustainable, Spade said. Cremation releases greenhouse gases and particulates.

But composting bodies could allow for the deceased to give back.

“Our goal is to provide something that is as aligned with the natural cycle as possible, but still realistic in being able to serve a good number of families and not take up as much land as burial will,” she told AP.

The bill which sits on Inslee’s desk also allows for the use of alkaline hydrolysis, which is already legal in 19 other states. This process uses heat, pressure, water and chemicals to reduce remains.

If Inslee signs the bill, it will take effect May 1, 2020.

Though burial and cremation are the most common ways to dispose of human remains, other methods have been used to remember and honor those who have died. The methods span history and the globe. To see some alternatives, click through the slideshow above. (Click to Source)

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