The state of New York now allows human composting


You can literally become one with nature

When you die, usually there are limited options to choose from when it comes to your remains. Some people want to be cremated, others want to be buried. In the state of New York, a third option becomes possible now that the state has legalized ‘human composting’.

Human composting

In 2020, one of the first Human Composting Facilities opened its doors in Seattle, Washington. The process of human composting, or “natural organic reduction”, entails the decomposition of the human body while it has been shut in a container for a certain amount of time. When you put a body in a container with other natural materials like woodchips, it becomes the perfect environment for bacteria and microbes to grow. This process slowly turns the body into soil. According to Recompose, the first human composting facility in the state of Washington, the decomposition takes about thirty days. The soil that remains after those thirty days can be taken home by family members or friends of the deceased. That way, it can be used in their own gardens to plant flowers, vegetables and other greenery.

Environmental friendly

An upside to human composting is that it is supposed to be a more environmental friendly type of death care. More traditional forms of death care, like cremation and burials, cause more carbon dioxide to be released. Carbon dioxide plays a huge part in climate change, causing the heat of the Earth to get trapped to create the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’. Another benefit of human composting is that it doesn’t require a coffin made out of wood, which is good for the environment too. And it could be a good alternative in cities where there is a limited amount of cemeteries.


New York legalizing this unconventional method of death care has caused some concerns. Especially Catholic bishops in the state have been opposed to human composting. They say that the body of a human should not be treated the same as “household waste”. Other concerns are about the cost of the process. However, Recompose says that the costs are not very different from a traditional funeral or cremation. To have your body composted in Seattle would cost you about seven thousand dollars. In comparison: according to the National Funeral Directors Association, a ‘regular’ funeral with burial or cremation will cost you about seven to eight thousand dollars.

Other states that have legalized human composting are Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and California. In Sweden the process is already legal and in the UK you can be buried without a coffin or in a biodegradable one.

Also read: Run! Running Apparently Extends Your Life By 3 Years

Source: BBC, National Funeral Directors Association, Science Alert, Recompose | Image: Unsplash, 
Roman Synkevych