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American state on the verge of legalising the composting of human remains

Credits: Pixabay / VanVangelis

Residents of Washington State are currently supporting a bill led by the State Senator, Jamie Pedersen, who aims to allow the composting of human remains. 

A similar bill had been already proposed a few months ago by Jamie Pedersen, the Senator of Washington State.  However this bill was rejected after it was feared the breakdown of human remains might lead to the development of harmful pathogenic agents.  The Senator has now redoubled his efforts this time with a study to back up his arguments.  But what does this concept involve exactly?

Ecological and economical

The idea consists of speeding up the decomposition of dead bodies so as to transform them into nutritious elements that could be returned to families before being planted in the ground.  Residents are very enthusiastic about the idea of becoming a tree or having another alternative after they die, stated the American politician in an interview with NBC News.  This is not a new idea, but if the bill is accepted, Washington State would officially become the first to authorise the composting of human remains.

This ecological concept also turns out to be economical as well.  Many Americans can’t afford the high funeral fees.  The average cost of a funeral was more than 7, 000 dollars in 2017.  This new decomposition concept would end up costing a little less – about 5, 500 dollars.

compost humain arbres
Could human remains soon be turned into compost ? Credits: GuentherDillingen/Pixabay

Return to the earth

The method is very similar to the method of making traditional compost.  Human remains would be placed in a composting room.  They can then decompose with organic materials.  An aeration system would at the same time help to encourage microbes which would accelerate the decomposition process.  For a normal sized person, there would be about one metre squared of compost left. This material would then be given back to the bereft families who could then return them to the ground.

A recent study carried out on 6 bodies by Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, an Associate Professor in Sustainable and Organic Agriculture in Washington State confirms that the process is perfectly safe and reliable.  Her conclusions will be published in 2019. If the bill is eventually adopted, it will come into place on the 1st May 2020. In time, those who are interested in this concept might be able to help a plant grow after their death!


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