People in Washington state may soon have a new option to choose from when planning their burial wishes. As The Seattle Times reports, a bill that would legalize human composting has passed the state's Senate and House of Representatives, and now it's waiting on final approval from the governor.
Human composting is what it sounds like: Instead of being cremated or pumped with embalming chemicals and buried in a casket, people can elect to have their corpses placed in the earth where microbes break them down naturally and convert them into soil. The process happens inside special reusable, hexagonal "recomposition vessels" especially designed for the urban environment. Bill 5001 [PDF] also covers alkaline hydrolysis or "liquid cremation," a process in which human remains are placed in a solution of water and lye to gradually decompose. Alkaline hydrolysis is already legal in 15 states, but if Washington approves the bill, it will become the first state to allow human composting.
Proponents of so-called "organic reduction" say it's more eco-friendly than traditional burial methods. Nutrients in the body help nourish life, and no chemicals or materials are added to the soil that will stay there for hundreds of years. It's also about $2000 cheaper than traditional burial methods.
The bill passed 80-16 in the House and 36-11 in the Senate. Governor Jay Inslee is expected to make a decision on the legislation soon, and if he signs it into law, it will take effect on May 1, 2020.
Human composting, or recomposing, is just one eco-friendly post-life plan. Some other options include feeding remains to vultures and burying a body in a head-to-toe suit lined with mushroom spores.
[h/t The Seattle Times]