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posted by janrinok on Wednesday September 21, @10:16PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the pushing-up-daisies dept.

Human Composting Now Legal in California:

Compared to cremation, turning your body into mulch keeps a surprising amount of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

In a few years, people in California will have a new choice for what to do with their loved ones' bodies after death: put them in their garden.

"AB 351 will provide an additional option for California residents that is more environmentally-friendly and gives them another choice for burial," Assembly member Cristina Garcia, who sponsored the bill, said in a release. "With climate change and sea-level rise as very real threats to our environment, this is an alternative method of final disposition that won't contribute emissions into our atmosphere."

Human beings cause more than enough trouble while we're alive, but the practices we've developed to handle our bodies after death are also pretty bad for the environment. Burying a dead body takes about three gallons of embalming liquid per corpse—stuff like formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol—and about 5.3 million gallons total gets buried with bodies each year. Meanwhile, cremation creates more than 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of carbon dioxide from the burning process of just one body, and the burning itself uses up the energy equivalent of two tanks of gasoline. In the U.S., cremation creates roughly 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

It's a no-brainer, then, to think of greener alternatives. The most common process for human composting—and the one laid out in the new California law—is called natural organic reduction, which involves leaving the body in a container with some wood chips and other organic matter for about a month to let bacteria do its work. The resulting mulch (yep, it's human body mulch) is then allowed to cure for a few more weeks before being turned over to the family. Each body can produce about a cubic yard of soil, or around one pickup truckbeds' worth. According to Garcia's release, this process will save about a metric ton of CO2 per body.

Related: World's First Human Composting Site to Open


Original Submission

Related Stories

World's First Human Composting Site to Open 29 comments

In 2021, a Seattle Washington funeral company is set to open its doors and begin accepting customers in a first of a kind human composting site.

US 'deathcare' company Recompose will be able to turn the deceased into a cubic yard of soil over a period of as little as 30 days, using one-eighth of the energy of cremation and saving as much as a metric ton of carbon dioxide from being produced compared to other forms of burial.

The company will be able to service up to 75 individuals at once.

the process sees bodies placed in reusable vessels covered in woodchips, alfalfa and hay, and sealed away in hexagonal tubes.

There the corpse's temperature is regulated while its surroundings are aerated, allowing naturally occurring bacteria to break down the body over the course of four to seven weeks.

The deceased is then returned to their loved ones as compost, limiting the carbon footprint from cremations and traditional burials while cutting out the embalming fluid chemicals which can leach into the soil and can pollute groundwater.

If desired, the dearly departed dirt can also be donated to

a land soil project to provide a forest on the state's Bell Mountain with additional nutrients, with one person creating 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of soil.

Previous Coverage Here, Here, and Here


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @10:23PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @10:23PM (#1272902)

    I wouldn't mind this, but what is my family going to do with a cubic yard of me-mulch? I think it'd be nice if the usual cemetery could be replaced with a memorial grove. Then at least there would be a nice tree to visit with a plaque or something saying who was fertilizing the tree.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @10:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @10:43PM (#1272908)

      That's not too much soil or mulch, whichever it is. Unless you don't have a yard.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Thexalon on Thursday September 22, @10:46AM

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday September 22, @10:46AM (#1272963)

      One human composting company that was highlighted by Caitlin Doughty of "Ask a Mortician" (who, incidentally, has been among those pushing for this law in California) described using the compost as part of soil and forest restoration projects. So in a sense, yes, the body gets a memorial grove, but it's generally mixed in with others.

      If you want something more specific to you, a friend of mine had his cremains buried right at the base of his favorite kind of tree planted in his honor with the idea that he would feed the tree, and that tree has been growing really well. His wife had a small stone carved with his name on it, it's a nice little memorial.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday September 21, @10:41PM (2 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 21, @10:41PM (#1272907) Homepage Journal

    Purina and the other dog food manufacturers use bone meal, fish meal, feather meal - what's wrong with people meal?

    --
    There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @10:47PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @10:47PM (#1272909)

      This would have a nice symmetry, since under the Democrats people will have to resort to eating dog food.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Tokolosh on Thursday September 22, @02:25AM

      by Tokolosh (585) on Thursday September 22, @02:25AM (#1272936)

      You mean like Soylent?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @11:06PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @11:06PM (#1272911)

    Give us human cooking. Raw meat isn't safe

  • (Score: 0, Troll) by Opportunist on Thursday September 22, @12:13AM (1 child)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Thursday September 22, @12:13AM (#1272918)

    At least after their death, some people will have some net positive value to their environment.

    Let's start with some goofballs in Sacramento.

    • (Score: 1, Troll) by Username on Thursday September 22, @10:05AM

      by Username (4557) on Thursday September 22, @10:05AM (#1272960)

      I guess that is one way to make migrants afraid of sanctuary states. Sure, you're welcome in CA, we'll turn you into mulch and spread you over some rich guys lawn. Obviously with your consent first. heh.

      Maybe the leftists will start turning the poor into jet fuel for their private planes next.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by legont on Thursday September 22, @12:34AM

    by legont (4179) on Thursday September 22, @12:34AM (#1272919)

    It's much cheaper to simply dig a hole in you back yard, put your grandphather in it, and cover. By the time grandma is dead, one can reuse the spot as even the most conservative places limit it to 10 years.
    Off course California wants to find a green and expensive way to screw you.

    --
    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, @01:41AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, @01:41AM (#1272926)

    An earlier version of low CO2 burial:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_burial [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, @04:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 22, @04:18PM (#1273011)

      That is interesting, but not quite as cool as the picture I built up in my head for what I thought it was from the title.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by maxwell demon on Thursday September 22, @06:00AM

    by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 22, @06:00AM (#1272945) Journal

    Burying a dead body takes about three gallons of embalming liquid per corpse

    No. Burying a dead body takes nothing but a shovel.

    It may be customary in the US to embalm the dead body before burying, but that's not inherent in the act of burying. It is entirely uncommon in many other countries.

    --
    The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
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