Washington is on the verge of becoming the first state to allow the environmentally-friendly practice of “human composting” — which turns dead bodies into soil within weeks.
The state legislature passed a bill that would legalize the burial alternative, also known as “natural organic reduction,” and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee will decide its fate.
A spokeswoman for Inslee said that while the governor is still reviewing the bill, the idea “seems like a thoughtful effort to soften our footprint” on the Earth.
The process is believed to transform a person’s remains into two wheelbarrows full of soil in just four to seven weeks.
Democratic state Sen. Jamie Pedersen of Seattle, who sponsored the measure, said that today’s technology could offer a new way to spend our eternity.
“It is sort of astonishing that you have this completely universal human experience — we’re all going to die — and here’s an area where technology has done nothing for us,” Pederson said. “We have the two means of disposing of human bodies that we’ve had for thousands of years, burying and burning. It just seems like an area that is ripe for having technology help give us some better options than we have used.”
One of Pederson’s constituents, Katrina Spade, is the founder and CEO of Recompose. Spade came up with the idea while she was a graduate student in architecture at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She modeled it on a practice farmers have used for decades to dispose of livestock.
Spade even executed a pilot program last year at Washington State University that reduced six human bodies — all donors — into soil.
“Our service – recomposition – gently converts human remains into soil, so that we can nourish new life after we die,” reads the Recompose website.
If signed by the governor, the new law would take effect on May, 1, 2020. It was not clear how much the process would cost.
Rob Goff, executive director of the Washington State Funeral Directors Association, said his group has been getting questions about the new process.
“To be able to provide more options for people’s choices is a very exciting thing,” he said.
With Post wires