New York allowed composting of human bodies

Anhelina Sheremet

New York has become the sixth U.S. state to allow human composting. A person can now instruct their body to be turned into earth after death, which is considered an environmentally friendly alternative to burial or cremation.

This is reported by the BBC.

This practice involves the body decomposing within weeks after being placed in a special container. The process takes place in special ground facilities. The body is placed in a sealed vessel with selected materials such as wood chips, alfalfa and straw grass, and is gradually decomposed by microbes.

It lasts about a month. Then the soil is subjected to heat treatment to kill any infection, and given to loved ones. It can be used when planting flowers, vegetables or trees.

The cost of such a service is approximately $7 000. The U.S. average for a funeral with burial was $7 848 in 2021 or $6 971 for a funeral with cremation.

Proponents of composting say itʼs not only a greener option, but also more practical in cities where cemetery space is limited.

However, ethical questions about what happens to the soil as a result of composting periodically arise. For example, Catholic bishops in New York opposed the law, arguing that human bodies should not be treated like "domestic waste."

In 2019, Washington became the first US state to legalize this method. Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and California followed suit.

Human composting is already allowed throughout Sweden. And natural burials, in which the body is buried without a coffin or with a decomposing coffin, are already allowed in Great Britain.