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Washington becomes first state to legalize human composting

May 22, 2019 - 6:07 am

4nadia/iStock(OLYMPIA, Wash.) -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation on Tuesday making the state the first in the country to legalize human composting.

The law would recognize "natural organic reduction," sometimes referred to as liquid cremation, as an alternative to traditional burying or cremation, which releases harmful chemicals into the air.

The process uses wood chips, straw and other substances to turn the human body into soil, giving families an environmentally friendly alternative to burial or cremation.

The new law, which goes into effect on May 1, 2020, would allow loved ones to keep the soil to possibly plant vegetables, flowers or even a tree.

The bill, titled "concerning human remains," passed with bipartisan majorities in both chambers of the state legislature: 80-16 in the House and 38-11 in the Senate.

State lawmakers said the bill was inspired by Katrina Spade, who came up with the idea for human composting as a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She went on to found Recompose, a nonprofit that aims to create the country's first public organic reduction funeral home, according to its website.

"Recomposition allows us to give back to the earth that supports us all our lives," the company said on its website. "In addition to creating a system that will gently return us to the earth, we encourage participation and strive to make the experience transparent and meaningful for everyone."

Inslee, who is currently running for president, has made climate change and environmental concerns the main platform of his campaign.

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