Washington may become first state to legalize human composting

#1

Im all for it. Its a waste of money, time, effort, and space to stick with traditional burials, imo

Washington is just a governor’s signature away from becoming the first state in the U.S. to legalize the “natural organic reduction” of human remains, colloquially known as “composting.”

On Friday, the state Senate and House of Representatives finalized their approval of bill 5001 (titled “concerning human remains”), which enshrines “organic reduction” and alkaline hydrolysis, a dissolving process sometimes called “liquid cremation,” as acceptable alternatives to traditional burial and cremation.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s office said the governor hasn’t had a chance to review the final legislation. (Once it crosses his desk, he’ll have five days to act.) If Inslee signs the bill, the law would take effect May 1, 2020.

“I am very much in favor of the composting of human bodies!” said Wes McMahan, a retired cardiovascular intensive-care nurse who lives in Randle, Lewis County, and testified in support of the bill this week.

“When I’m done with this body that served me very well for the past 64 years, do I want to poison it with formaldehyde and other embalming chemicals? No,” McMahan said. “Burned? Not my first choice. But what about all the bacteria I’ve worked with so long in this body — do I want to give them a chance to do what they do naturally? I believe in doing things as naturally as possible.”

Passage of the bill fulfills a longtime hope for Seattle-based Katrina Spade, and is another step in a years-long effort to realize her vision for an urban, soil-based, ecologically friendly death-care option. She is the founder and CEO of Recompose, which aspires to be the first “natural organic reduction” funeral home in the U.S.

In the seven years since Spade formally launched the idea, which started as a nonprofit called the Urban Death Project, she has worked with scientists in Eastern Washington and North Carolina to study how human bodies decompose in soil. (One trial involved the bodies of six supporters who’d volunteered their remains for research.) The studies demonstrated that the resulting compost met — and sometimes exceeded — state and federal safety standards for pathogens and metals that could be dangerous to humans, animals, or nearby plants. (Also important: The soil smelled like soil and nothing else.)

In other words, according to the research, carefully and properly composted human remains are safe enough to use in a household garden.

Troy Hottle, a postdoctoral fellow with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has been studying the financial and ecological costs of funerary options, including “recomposition,” with researchers in the U.S. and the Netherlands. “Recompose gets as close to the natural process of decomposition [as] you’d assume a body would undergo before we had an industrialized society,” Hottle said. “In an urban environment, which is where the global population is growing and land use is at a premium, it’s the most efficient and environmentally sound method of burial.”

Spade has also been assembling an advisory board of scientists, attorneys, and death-care experts (Hottle has joined as a science adviser, a volunteer position); looking at properties for the first Recompose (lead contenders are in SODO); collaborating with architects and engineers to design the building; and, in the past year and a half, talking to lawmakers in Olympia.

Rep. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle, who co-sponsored the bill in the House, first heard about the idea while campaigning in 2016. “I was doorbelling and met some people who were organizers of the project,” she said. “This is one of those bills that just gains a following — I got a lot of emails from folks in support of this, a combination of environmentalists and people thinking about practical approaches to end-of-life issues.”

“Of all the options for the disposition of human remains, this would be by far the most environmentally friendly,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who first proposed the bill in the Senate. “It’s just what used to happen before the arrival of $5,000 caskets covered with ecologically unfriendly varnishes and all the rest.”

#2

I thought California allowed it? They allow casketless burial of unembalmed bodies. Maybe it’s the definition of what constitutes composting.

When I did my first will, the lawyer asked me about how I would like my remains disposed. I told him that I wanted my nude corpse to be slipped into Sitka Sound (the place of my birth) to be consumed by the crabs and sand fleas. You should have seen the look on his face. :wink:

#3

I dont think so. And illegal “dumping” of dead body would probably bring steep fine from the EPA. West coast liberalism also comes with heavy regulation.

Unless you mean “human excrement composting” then yes, it is legal here if youre homeless.

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#4

It doesn’t feel right.

#5

I recall reading an article some years ago about it being legal in California to be buried on your property (outside of developed areas) without a casket as long as the body had not been embalmed. It portrayed the classic “on a hill under a lone oak tree overlooking the valley” image of old west movies.

#6

Soilent Green.

#7

Facts dont care about your feelings.

#8

To properly compost bodies you need to run them through something akin to a chipper/shredder.

That’s a bit gory for my taste but casketless burial without embalming would properly recycle us back to nature just fine.

#9

My book on composting says not to put red meat in the pile. Fish is okay, but pigs, cows … or people, is questionable, and bone would have to be pulverized to go back to soil in a timely (for the plants to use the minerals) manner.

I agree, the uncontaminated, uncontained corpse in the ground left to decompose naturally seems a perfectly fine way to go.

#10

I view this as an attack on Christianity. Leftists want to normalize anything that erodes the values and traditions of Christianity.

#11

Burial of the dead goes back thousands of years before Christianity.

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#12

Just have to find a way not to spook the FBI agents, if the bodies turn up. Maybe a special dog tag?

Id disagree. Ashes to ashes, dirt to dirt. When I dead and come to be judged, my body no longer has a meaning.

#13

Insert an RFID tag in the skull and/or long bones, problem solved. Honestly as long as there’s a record of the burial including location it shouldn’t be an issue anyhow.

#14

Putting embalmed bodies in sealed caskets has nothing to do with Christianity, it only came about in the last hundred years or so.

#15

I agree … a stainless steel tag certifying that the burial was authorized would be appropriate.

#16

Even though it’s not the “Washington” Mark Levin refers to, this thread adds a whole new dimension to his term “Washington Compost”.

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