Washington becomes first state to allow human composting

In a push for eco-friendly burial alternatives, Washington became the first state to allow “human composting” when Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation Tuesday that approved the process that turned bodies into soil within weeks.

Human composting, or “natural organic reduction,” relies on a mixture of materials, such as wood chips and straw, to produce about two wheelbarrows’ worth of soil. The legislation signed into law Tuesday will allow licensed facilities to offer the service.

The law also allows loved ones to keep the soil in urns, similar to cremation, spread it in public lands or use it to grow plants on private property.

Proponents of the law say it will help reduce the demands on space needed after a person dies, curb pollution from chemicals pumped into buried bodies that can seep into groundwater and reduce carbon emissions from cremation. It also can help with the planting of trees.

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