By Kristen Rogers | CNN

You probably know that composting banana peels and eggshells can help reduce your negative impact on the environment. But did you know that, once you die, you can do that with your body, too?

Human composting — also known as natural organic reduction or the reduction of human remains — is the practice of placing a dead body in a reusable vessel with biodegradable materials that foster the transformation into nutrient-dense soil that can be returned to loved ones or donated to conservation land.

The notion of going green even in death might sound far-fetched, but California has become the latest state to sign a human composting bill into law, set to go into effect in 2027. Washington became the first state to legalize human composting in 2019, followed by Oregon, Colorado and Vermont.

Advocates of human composting hope it can help slow the climate crisis driven by burning fossil fuels that produce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and methane. 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, according to Chemical & Engineering News, a publication of the American Chemical Society. In the United States, cremations account for 1.74 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year, according to Green Burial Council Inc., an organization that oversees certification standards for cemeteries, funeral homes and product providers engaged in sustainable burial practices.

“Human composting … uses much less energy than cremation, which uses fossil gas to create heat of over 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Katrina Spade, founder and CEO of Recompose, a licensed green funeral home in Seattle. “When human composting transforms the organic material of our bodies, carbon is also sequestered in the soil created. Rather than being released as carbon dioxide gas through exhaust during a cremation, the carbon matter contained in each body returns to the earth.”

Cristina Garcia, the California Assembly member who introduced the state legislation, said wildfires and extreme drought are reminders that climate change is real, and that methane and carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced. “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,” Garcia said in a September …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


How human composting could reduce death’s carbon footprint

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