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Human composting is now officially legal in New York

"Green burials" are now a thing on this side of town.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Although we find it a bit morbid to think about what happens to our bodies once we've passed away, governor Kathy Hochul just signed a new bill into law that deals with just that—and it's certainly worth talking about.

The new guidelines officially legalize the composting of human remains, a "green burial method" that folks looking for an alternative yet environmentally-friendly way to deal with the bodies of people who have died have been asking about for quite some time. 

New York is now the sixth state to approve of the practice. Similar laws have already passed in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Also referred to as "natural organic reduction" or "terramation," the method involves placing a body inside of a reusable pod alongside biodegradable plant materials (think wood chips, straw, sawdust or alfalfa, for example) and storing it in a special facility for a month while bacteria and microbes break the vessel down. 

After about 30 days, the pod will have turned into a cubic yard of compost that could then be "traditionally" buried in a cemetery or, perhaps, used to fertilize terrain (hopefully, within a memorial garden or something of the sort). 

According to a study by Seattle green funeral home Recompose, the process produces significantly less carbon dioxide emissions than other methods, including burials and cremations.

Although human composting is now legal, funeral homes in New York have yet to offer it as a service to customers. Specific regulations dealing with the process will first have to be set up by the state government.

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