Thinking Citizen Blog — Human Composting (aka “Natural Organic Reduction”) — Good Idea? Bad Idea? Will It Catch On?
Thinking Citizen Blog — Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day
Today’s Topic: Human Composting (aka “Natural Organic Reduction”) — Good Idea? Bad Idea? Will It Catch On?
Would you fancy turning your body into soil after your death? The first state to legalize human composting was Washington in 2019. Then Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and California. New York became the sixth state in December 2022. Will Massachusetts be next? Will human composting become the “default American death care option”? Is it the right “green” choice? Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
A MUCH GREENER OPTION COMPARED TO CREMATION OR TRADITIONAL BURIAL
1. “Cremations require lots of fuel — cremating one corpse emits an estimated 418 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air, the equivalent of driving 470 miles in a car.”
2. “For each individual who chooses (natural organic reduction) over conventional burial or cremation, the process saves the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon from entering the environment.”
3. But “human composting” is “not carbon-free since it still involves machinery operated by electricity and transportation of bodies, materials and remains.”
KATHERINE SPADE, THE CHAMPION OF “HUMAN COMPOSTING”
1. “Considering her own mortality, Spade wanted more options that were less toxic, environmentally and economically friendly.”
2. “Spade thought of human composting in graduate school after learning about livestock mortality composting, when farm animals are recycled back to the land.”
3. In 2014, Spade founded the non-profit Urban Death Project which became the for-profit Recompose in 2017. The first body was recomposed in December 2020. The company has a patent pending.
NB: So far a few hundred bodies have been recomposed.
HOW THE PROCESS WORKS — accelerates decomposition
1. “The 60-day, chemical free post mortem process involves putting a person’s remains in a “vessel” with organic material such as straw, alfalfa or sawdust. The box is sealed and attached to an HVAC system, and the remains are allowed to decompose.”
2. “At the 30-day mark, the contents are screened for inorganic material and remaining bone is broken up and put back in.”
3. “After another 30 days, the contents are returned to the family.”
NB: “The end result is a heaping cubic yard of nutrient-dense soil amendment, the equivalent of about 36 bags of soil, that can be used to plant trees or enrich conservation land, forests, or gardens.”
FOOTNOTE — COMPATIBILITY WITH RELIGIOUS PRACTICES — Catholic, Muslim, Jewish
1. Catholic Church in the United States: “does not confer the respect due to bodily remains.” The Catholic Church of New York opposed legalization.
2. “Muslim burial practices ordinarily involve natural burials without embalming or cremation. They involve prompt washing of the corpse, wrapping it in a simple plain-cloth shroud, and rapid burial without a casket, with some soil placed under the body.”
3. “Jewish burial practices are very similar. If a casket is used in a Jewish burial, the casket is generally simple and made of unfinished wood, and strictly-observant practice avoids all use of metal — the wood parts of the caskets are joined by wooden dowels rather than nails. Caskets are not used in Israel.”
Hochul legalizes ‘human composting’ for eco-friendly burials in New York
Opinion | If You Want to Give Something Back to Nature, Give Your Body
New York approves composting of human bodies
New York OKs Human Composting Law; 6th State in US to Do So
QUOTE OF THE MONTH:
“In my walks, every man I meet is in some way my superior and in that I can learn of him.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
A LINK TO THE LAST FOUR YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:
PDF with headlines — Google Drive
ATTACHMENT BELOW -
#1 A graphic guide to justice (9 metaphors on one page).
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
PDF with headlines — Google Drive
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to climate change or the environment. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to climate change that the rest of us may have missed. Your favorite chart or table perhaps…
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.