Washington Might Be the First State to Legalize ‘Human Composting’

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It’s an age-old question that you’ve most likely thought about at one time or another: what will happen to your body after you die? Do you want to be buried in a cemetery? Cremated and spread into the ocean?

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In what would be a historic move, it looks like Washington may be the first state to offer ‘human composting’ as an option after residents pass away. The method transforms human remains into soil, takes four to seven weeks to complete, and results in roughly a cubic yard of…well, compost.

Washington’s state legislature already passed a bill allowing human composting, and now it’s up to Governor Jay Inslee to sign the bill into law. If he does, the law will take effect in May 2020.

Here’s how it works: bodies are placed into large, cylindrical tubes filled with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. A controlled amount of oxygen helps to speed up the decomposition, and after 4-7 weeks the transformation is complete. Family and friends can keep the soil in urns or do whatever they see fit with the remains.

The process has been called an eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial and cremation, which releases 600 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

It will be interesting to see what states follow Washington’s lead if the bill is signed into law.

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