It’s never boring living in Washington state, the land of legalized marijuana, orcas, lots of rain, a quasi-socialist city government and now the chance to become at one with the soil — extra quick.
Literally. We’re the first state to legalize human composting.
It’s not quite “Soylent Green” (the 1973 dystopian movie where dead people are made into food for a starving world), but it feels like a step in that direction. Some are calling it the chance to have “a better, greener death.”
This slogan goes better with some religions than others. The Christian flocks with ancient roots have lots of problems with this,
Let’s start with how the Seattle Times reported on it:
On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5001, “concerning human remains,”making Washington the first state in the U.S. to legalize human composting.
The law, which takes effect May 1, 2020, recognizes “natural organic reduction” and alkaline hydrolysis (sometimes called “liquid cremation”) as acceptable means of disposition for human bodies. Until now, Washington code had permitted only burial and cremation.
It’s part of a project called “Recompose,” also known as the Urban Death Project before being renamed, for obvious reasons.
The Recompose model is more like an urban crematorium (bodies go in, remains come out), but using the slower, less carbon-intensive means of “organic reduction,” or composting.
The process, which involves using wood chips, straw and other materials, takes about four weeks and is related to methods of “livestock composting” that ranchers and farmers have been using for several years. Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a soil scientist at Washington State University, says that practice can turn a 1,500-pound steer — bones and all — into clean, odorless soil in a matter of months.
So that’s what farmers do with all those dead cows and horses. Do you get to tell your family where “you” get to be planted once you’ve turned into dirt? With the tomatoes out back? In the front flower bed?