Composting of human bodies approved in state despite critics slamming method

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New York is now the sixth state to allow human composting (Image: Getty Images for Recompose)
New York is now the sixth state to allow human composting (Image: Getty Images for Recompose)

A US state has approved the composting of human bodies despite critics insisting they "are not household waste".

New York has followed Washington, Colorado, Oregon and California into legalising human compositing after Democrat governor Kathy Hochul penned the legislation on Saturday.

A human body can now be turned into soil after a person's death as the environmentally alternative to burial or cremation was given the green light.

The process happens when the body is enclosed in a vessel along with materials including woodchips, straw grass and alfalfa.

It then gradually breaks down under the action of microbes after a month and the body is returned to loved ones in soil, which can be used for planting trees, vegetables or flowers.

Kamala Harris and George Floyd's brother among hundreds at Tyre Nichols funeral eidehiqdqikinvKamala Harris and George Floyd's brother among hundreds at Tyre Nichols funeral
Composting of human bodies approved in state despite critics slamming methodStraw and wood chips are used in the human composting process (Getty Images for Recompose)

Howard Fischer, 63, from New York, wants his body to be composted in the Big Apple rather than having to travel miles for it to be legal.

He said: "I am committed to having my body composted and my family knows that. But I would love for it to happen in New York where I live rather than shipping myself across the country."

Howard believes the environmentally friendly burial fits in with his green views especially as cities such as New York, who have limited land for burials.

Composting of human bodies approved in state despite critics slamming methodThe method is known as natural organic reduction (Getty Images for Recompose)

Bernard O'Brien, 65, told the Daily Mail he plans to sign up to the burial alternative, he said: "It's comforting to think of my body serving nature, flowers and trees rather than being in a box six feet underground or burned.

"'I was raised a Christian and... if my body is distributed back to nature it gives me images of my loved ones enjoying flowers and trees from it forever."

Around 1,200 people have signed up to be on a waiting list in New York.

Composting of human bodies approved in state despite critics slamming methodAround 1,200 people have signed up to be on the human composting waiting list in New York (Getty Images for Recompose)

According to one cremation manager in New York, the Greensprings Natural Cemetery Preserve would "strongly consider" signing up to the alternative method.

Manager Michelle Menter said: "'It definitely is more in line with what we do. Every single thing we can do to turn people away from concrete liners and fancy caskets and embalming, we ought to do and be supportive of."

But despite the environmental benefits there has been criticism from some who believe the burial method is "inappropriate."

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes the bill as Dennis Poust, executive director of the organisation, said: "A process that is perfectly appropriate for returning vegetable trimmings to the earth is not necessarily appropriate for human bodies.

'My partner wants to go to a funeral I was excluded from - I'm devastated''My partner wants to go to a funeral I was excluded from - I'm devastated'

"'Human bodies are not household waste, and we do not believe that the process meets the standard of reverent treatment of our earthly remains."

Four states including Minnesota, Delaware, Illinois and Massachusetts are contemplating the bill.

However, Hawaii and Maine both rejected bills supporting the legalisation.

Liam Buckler

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