California Fights Climate Change Through Human Composting


    Due to the carbon dioxide emissions that are associated with cremation, this bill will provide people with the option to compost remains using a process known in the field of natural organic reduction (NOR) in the event that they do decide not to be cremated or buried.

    “The process involves placing the body inside a long, reusable steel container along with wood chips and flowers to aerate it – allowing microbes and bacteria to break down the remains,” according to the Daily Mail. “One month later, the remains will fully decompose and be turned into soil.”

    The act of cremation is responsible for 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

    California Democrat Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, who was the author of the legislation, has praised the NOR for being an “more environmentally friendly” practice which will provide people with greater options when it comes to their burial. Garcia stated:

    “With rising sea-levels as real environmental threats, this is a viable way of disposal that doesn't add emissions to our environment. I'm looking forward to continuing my work to fight for pure air and clean air quality by making use of my leftovers to plant a new tree.”

    The bill makes it illegal to mix human remains without permission unless the two are closely connected. Also, it will be unlawful to trade the soil or make use of it for agricultural purposes.

    The Catholic Church strongly opposes the use of NOR, claiming it is intended for livestock.

    “NOR uses essentially the same process as a home gardening composting system,” Kathleen Domingo, the head of operations for the California Catholic Conference, told SFGATE. She said:

    “The disposal methods used were employed to reduce the chance of diseases that could be transmitted through a corpse. Utilizing these methods for the transformation of human remains could cause an unwelcome emotional, spiritual, and psychological separation from the dead.”

    The law is not expected to become effective until 2027. It will be a follow-up to those of Washington, Colorado, and Oregon.


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