New York becomes the 6th state to give the green light to human composting

New York is the sixth US state to legalize natural organic reduction, also known as human composting, though critics deplore the burial method, saying “human bodies are not household waste.”

Recently re-elected Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, signed the law into law on Saturday. Washington state became the first state to legalize human composting in 2019, followed by Colorado and Oregon in 2021, and Vermont and California in 2022.

“I am committed to getting my body composted and my family knows it,” said Howard Fischer, a New York City-based investor. “But I would love it if it happened in New York where I live instead of sending me across the country.”

For the 63-year-old, this alternative, green type of burial corresponds to his philosophical attitude to life: to live in an environmentally friendly manner.

New York is now the sixth state in the US to legalize natural organic reduction, also known as human composting. Pictured: The first stage of human composting at the Recompose Center in Seattle, Washington. It involves placing a body on a bed of straw, alfalfa, and wood shavings before bringing it into unity (the hexagonal shape).

New York is now the sixth state in the US to legalize natural organic reduction, also known as human composting. Pictured: The first stage of human composting at the Recompose Center in Seattle, Washington. It involves placing a body on a bed of straw, alfalfa, and wood shavings before bringing it into unity (the hexagonal shape).

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday legalized a bill approving the new burial method

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday legalized a bill approving the new burial method

Straw and wood chips (pictured) are used in the human composting process, creating the perfect habitat for naturally occurring microbes to break down the human body in about a month

Straw and wood chips (pictured) are used in the human composting process, creating the perfect habitat for naturally occurring microbes to break down the human body in about a month

General view of a row of composting bins at Recompose in Seattle - a green funeral home specializing in human composting

General view of a row of composting bins at Recompose in Seattle – a green funeral home specializing in human composting

Two people look at a cloaked mannequin in a jar where corpses typically lie for a month while they decompose before becoming mulch

Two people look at a cloaked mannequin in a jar where corpses typically lie for a month while they decompose before becoming mulch

The process involves the following: The body of the deceased is placed in a reusable vessel along with plant material such as wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. The organic blend creates the perfect habitat for naturally occurring microbes to do their job and break down the body quickly and efficiently in about a month.

The end result is a heaped cubic yard of nutrient-rich soil amendment, equivalent to about 36 bags of soil, which can be used to plant trees or enrich a conservation area, forest or garden.

For urban areas like New York City, where land is limited, it can be considered a fairly attractive burial alternative.

“It’s comforting to think that my body serves nature, flowers and trees instead of lying in a box six feet under the ground or being burned,” says 65-year-old Bernard O’Brien, who lives in Brooklyn Heights lives and works for the New York Independent Budget Office, DailyMail.com previously told.

“I was raised Christian and … giving my body back to nature gives me images of my loved ones forever enjoying flowers and trees.”

He plans to sign up as soon as it’s approved, and then spread his soil over a wildlife sanctuary in Indiana, where he’s from.

This graphic shows the human composting process, which is already legal in five other states besides New York, including California, Washington, Vermont, Oregon and Colorado

This graphic shows the human composting process, which is already legal in five other states besides New York, including California, Washington, Vermont, Oregon and Colorado

New York City-based investor Howard Fischer, 63, is a proponent who sees human composting as an environmentally friendly way to return his remains to earth as fresh, fertile soil when he dies

New York City-based investor Howard Fischer, 63, is a proponent who sees human composting as an environmentally friendly way to return his remains to earth as fresh, fertile soil when he dies

Bernard O'Brien, 65, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York City, said the process of his body's natural decomposition is

Bernard O’Brien, 65, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York City, said the process of his body’s natural decomposition is “reassuring” as it allows his remains to transform back into nature

And like O’Brien, to date, about 200 people have requested that their remains go through the process, with another 1,200 currently on a waiting list.

Michelle Menter, manager of Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve, a cemetery in central New York, said the facility will be “strongly considering” the alternative method.

“It definitely fits better with what we do,” she added.

The 52-acre conservation cemetery, nestled among protected wooded areas, offers natural, green burials where a corpse can be placed in a biodegradable container and placed on a burial ground to allow it to fully decompose.

“Anything we can do to dissuade people from concrete linings and fancy coffins and embalming, we should do and support it,” she said.

Guests place wood shavings and straw on a cloaked mannequin near the vessel before allowing the body to decompose for 30-31 days

Guests place wood shavings and straw on a cloaked mannequin near the vessel before allowing the body to decompose for 30-31 days

A cloaked mannequin covered in flowers rests near a compost bin, mimicking what happens to human corpses before they begin to decompose

A cloaked mannequin covered in flowers rests near a compost bin, mimicking what happens to human corpses before they begin to decompose

However, not everyone is on board with the idea.

The New York State Catholic Conference, a group representing the state’s bishops, has long opposed the bill, calling the burial method “inappropriate.”

“A process perfectly suited to returning vegetable waste to the earth is not necessarily suited to the human body,” Dennis Poust, executive director of the organization, said in a statement.

“Human bodies are not household waste, and we do not believe the process meets the standard of reverent treatment of our mortal remains,” he said.

Katrina Spade, the founder and CEO of Recompose, shows a sample of the compost material left behind when a cow decomposes, using a combination of wood chips, alfalfa and straw, while posing in a Seattle cemetery

Katrina Spade, the founder and CEO of Recompose, shows a sample of the compost material left behind when a cow decomposes, using a combination of wood chips, alfalfa and straw, while posing in a Seattle cemetery

Katrina Spade, founder of Recompose, a full-service green funeral home in Seattle that offers human composting, said it offers an alternative for people who want to align the disposal of their remains with their lifestyle.

She said, “It feels like a movement” among the environmentally conscious.

“Cremation uses fossil fuels and burial uses a lot of land and has a carbon footprint,” Spade said. “For a lot of people, being turned into soil that can grow into a garden or a tree is quite impressive.”

Four other states — Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Minnesota — are also trying to legalize human composting. Bills supporting the process failed in Hawaii and Maine.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11591123/New-York-6th-state-green-light-human-composting.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 New York becomes the 6th state to give the green light to human composting

Bradford Betz

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