The Jury Talks Back

5/23/2019

Washington State Takes “Going Green” To New Level: Now Legal To Compost Deceased Loved Ones

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 9:09 am

[guest post by Dana]

Gov. Jay Inslee, who is also a is a Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, showed voters he is serious about “going green” when he signed off on a controversial-to-some third option for deposing of human remains:

Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Tuesday making Washington the first state to approve composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains.

It allows licensed facilities to offer “natural organic reduction,” which turns a body, mixed with substances such as wood chips and straw, into about two wheelbarrows’ worth of soil in a span of several weeks.

Loved ones are allowed to keep the soil to spread, just as they might spread the ashes of someone who has been cremated — or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree.

Supporters believe this process is a far more environmentally friendly route to go. The process would help alleviate environmental and financial concerns that come with traditional burials and cremation: the increasing use of land used to bury the dead as well as the lack of available land for burials in other areas, harsh chemicals like formaldehyde (used in traditional burials) eventually seeping into groundwater, and exorbitant costs which can run anywhere $8,000 and $25,000 for a burial, and $6,000 or more for cremation. The targeted cost for human composting is around $5,500.

The idea of human composting is the brainchild of Katrina Spade, an architecture student who adapted the traditional method used by farmers to dispose of their livestock:

She tweaked the process and found that wood chips, alfalfa and straw created a mixture of nitrogen and carbon that accelerates natural decomposition when a body is placed in a temperature- and moisture-controlled vessel and rotated.

A pilot project at Washington State University tested the idea last year on six bodies, all donors who Spade said wanted to be part of the study.(The) body is covered in natural materials, like straw or wood chips, and over the course of about three to seven weeks, thanks to microbial activity, it breaks down into soil.

While there have been objections to the legislation, and accusations of the process being undignified and disgusting, Spade’s company, Recompose is pushing ahead to raise $7 million for a facility in Seattle, with plans to expand to other locations as well.

–Dana

1 Comment »

  1. I fully agree with those who say this is undignified and disgusting.

    I also agree with the profoundly revolting Gov. Jay Inslee this it should not be illegal.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 5/23/2019 @ 2:09 pm

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