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HUMAN remains can be used as compost in 2027 under new California law to tackle climate change

California will begin offering the option of human composting after death thanks to a bill recently signed into law aimed at tackling climate change.

Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction (NOR), would be an option for residents who do not wish to be buried or cremated upon their death – starting in 2027.

The process involves placing the body inside a long, reusable steel container along with wood chips and flowers to aerate it – allowing microbes and bacteria to break down the remains.

About a month later, the remains will completely decompose and turn into soil.

Proponents of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, have said NOR is a more climate-friendly option.

California will begin offering the option of human composting after death thanks to a bill recently signed into law
California will begin offering the option of human composting after death thanks to a bill recently signed into law

California will begin offering the option of human composting after death thanks to a bill recently signed into law

Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction (NOR), would be an option for residents who do not wish to be buried or cremated upon their death - starting in 2027
Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction (NOR), would be an option for residents who do not wish to be buried or cremated upon their death - starting in 2027

Human composting, also known as natural organic reduction (NOR), would be an option for residents who do not wish to be buried or cremated upon their death – starting in 2027

Cremation in the United States alone emits about 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to National Geographic.

The bill prohibits combining the remains of different people unless they are related.

But that doesn’t make it illegal to sell the land that results from the process or use it to grow food for human consumption.

“AB 351 will provide an additional option for California residents that is more environmentally friendly and gives them another choice for burial,” Democratic Assembly member Cristina Garcia, the author of the bill, said in a statement.

Proponents of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this week, have said NOR is a more climate-friendly option.  Cremation in the United States alone emits about 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to National Geographic
Proponents of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this week, have said NOR is a more climate-friendly option.  Cremation in the United States alone emits about 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to National Geographic

Proponents of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this week, have said NOR is a more climate-friendly option. Cremation in the United States alone emits about 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to National Geographic

“With climate change and sea level rise as very real threats to our environment, this is an alternative method of final disposal that will not contribute emissions to our atmosphere.

“I look forward to continuing my legacy of fighting for clean air by using my reduced leftovers to plant a tree,” she wroteand notes that she can choose the method herself when she passes away.

Micah Truman, founder and CEO of Return Home, a Seattle-area funeral home that specializes in human composting, said there has been increasing demand for the practice in recent years.

“With cremation, instead of sitting with our person and saying goodbye, we are very much separated from the process,” he told The Guardian.

Proponents of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom this week, have said NOR is a more climate-friendly solution
Proponents of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom this week, have said NOR is a more climate-friendly solution

Proponents of the bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom this week, have said NOR is a more climate-friendly solution

Truman said that when a body is composted by his facility, the resulting soil is returned to the family to do with as they wish — some customers have planted trees or flowers, while others have spread it into the ocean.

The Catholic Church in the state opposes the process.

“NOR uses essentially the same process as a composting system for gardening,” California Catholic Conference Executive Director Kathleen Domingo said in a statement to SFGATE.

She added that the process was developed for livestock, not humans.

“These methods of disposal were used to reduce the possibility of the disease being transmitted by the dead body,” Domingo said.

‘Using the same methods for “transformation” of human remains can create an unfortunate spiritual, emotional and psychological distancing from the deceased.’

Washington, Colorado and Oregon have all legalized the process of composting human remains. However, Colorado does not allow the land to be sold or used to grow food for human consumption.

According to a bill recently passed by the New York State Legislature, only cemeteries would be allowed to apply for a permit to offer human composting — which the New York State Funeral Directors Association objects to.

“Funeral directors have always prided themselves on being very responsive, fully responsive to what a person deserves for their own funeral and burial — how they would like it,” Randy McCullough, deputy director of the organization, told NY1 News.

‘And we still want to do that with this process. We are not at all opposed to the introduction of these alternative disposition processes in themselves.’

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