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California approves human composting as a way for burial

California approves human composting as a way for burial

On Sunday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that allows composting of human remains. This effectively means that the residents of California have one more way of disposing bodies of their loved ones. Traditionally, the ways of dealing with dead bodies were cremation and casket burials. 

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The move aims to reduce the environmental effects caused by methods of burial such as cremation. Currently, cremation accounts for more than half of the burials in the state. However, the process is energy intensive and emits gasses such as CO2 into the atmosphere.

Related: Barcelona cemetery has a new 100% biodegradable burial area

The bill signed on Sunday now allows for natural organic reduction (NOR), a process through which the human remains are naturally broken down into soil. The law now promotes this alternative as an environmentally safe way of burying dead bodies. The law was introduced as Assembly Bill 351, drafted by assembly member Cristina Garcia.

“With climate change and sea-level rise as very real threats to our environment, this is an alternative method of final disposition that won’t contribute emissions into our atmosphere,” Garcia said in a statement.

The process of composition is done by placing the body of the deceased in an eight-feet-long steel box with some other biodegradable materials such as wood. The body stays for about 30 to 60 days, where it undergoes decomposition before it is returned to the relatives.

California becomes the fifth state to legalize human composting, following in the footsteps of Washington, Vermont, Colorado and Oregon. The move is necessitated by growing demand for such services in recent years. 

According to Micah Truman, the founder, and CEO of Return Home, a funeral home in Seattle that specializes in human composting, more people have been asking for such services. Truman said that people from 12 different states have brought bodies over the borderline for composting at Return Home.

While some have welcomed the law, not everyone is happy with the move. The California Catholic Conference has criticized the move, saying that it lowers human dignity. 

Composting cost runs between $5000 to $7000, similar to price for casket burial and cremation in California.

Via The Guardian

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