New California Bill Will Allow People to Compost Their Dead Body

According to KCRW, a California lawmaker is pushing legislation that would allow families to compost their loved ones and turn their remains into soil, a process called human composting.

“I would love to be a tree one day,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) and chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Climate Change Policies, who introduced Assembly Bill 2592 to allow for human composting. “This service will provide an additional option for California residents that is more environmentally friendly and gives them another choice for burial.”

Supporters say human composting doubles as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as it saves the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon compared to traditional burials or cremations.

“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,” said Garcia.

The state of Washington became the first state to allow human composting when Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law last year permitting the practice and allows families to forgo traditional burials and cremations in favor of so-called human composting. The law goes into effect in May.

The company Recompose suggests it helps fight climate change — that for every corpse that composts (instead of being cremated or buried), a metric ton of carbon is saved from entering the environment.

Caitlin Doughty, Los Angeles-based mortician and founder of the collective called “The Order of the Good Death”,” says burial space can be expensive in LA, and the idea behind human composting is that a center would exist for accelerating the natural process of bodies decaying, and the compost would help grow things in soil, such as a tree or bush, KCRW reports.

“It’s very popular to think about becoming a tree now because I think it really speaks to our fears of climate change and our desire to become more a part of the natural world. If those are your values in life, I think a process like composting or recompose can really reflect that then in your death,” she says.

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About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

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