Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Natural Organic Reduction AKA Human Composting

I grew up in Washington state. Even though I haven’t lived there in a long time, my ears perk up anytime there’s a story in the news about doings in the area. A recent one in the Los Angeles Times talked about a bill that recently passed the Washington state legislature giving residents the option of natural organic reduction aka human composting. Yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee signed it into law. You can read the Seattle Times article here:

I also found this interesting article on the process:

I’d never heard of natural organic reduction. It’s supposed to be a more environmentally friendly alternative to burial or cremation. It reduces the carbon emissions emitted by cremation and takes up less space than a burial. I honestly have never thought about whether or not burial and cremation are green processes or not.

The process works like this: a body is placed with wood chips, alfalfa and straw in a steel vessel where it’s decomposed by microbes. The end product is soil, similar to topsoil you can buy at a local nursery. Customers can take the soil and spread it in their garden or donate it to conservation groups for tree planting. The process takes 30 days. One body produces on average one cubic yard of soil, about two wheelbarrows worth.

Apparently, a similar process is used to dispose of bodies of animals such as cattle in some areas.

I expected the issue to be more controversial than it appears to be. I scoured the internet, but couldn’t find many people expressing negative comments about it. There were some concerns about spreading disease and some people doubted if the process would actually work. But, other than that, not much.

As a mystery writer, I can imagine a number of interesting scenarios. I can also see family members not being particularly enamored with a loved one’s wish to use this process.

What do you all think?


Anna said...

What would old mom have wished? Forget the survivors' squabbles over who gets the heirloom silver, the worthless but sentimental trinkets, and the dog. This beats them all.
Alternatively, how about a resentful ghost? Or the eventual buyers of the house who decide to revamp the garden....

Rick Blechta said...

At least the vampire guy hasn't shown up today, leaving one of his very odd comments about becoming one.

Nice post, Sybil. Thanks!

Sybil Johnson said...

Turns out the Catholic church is very much against this, saying it doesn't treat the body with respect. And funeral directors aren't pleased either.

blogcutter said...

If I didn't have to consider the sensitivities of my surviving descendants, I would definitely be interested in donating my body to one of these "body farms". Sharon Kirkey recently wrote an article about the first one to open in Canada:

Charlotte Hinger said...

Oh please, Sybil. PLEASE! I just do not want to have this done to me.

Donis Casey said...

I kind of like the idea. I suggested to my husband that he donate me to a body farm, because the thought of just lying on the ground until you disappear appeals to me. But he was horrified, so if I go before him, he can just do with me as he likes. (I promised him I wouldn't body farm him out, btw)