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  • A guy is scrolling through Facebook and he sees those dreaded letters, “R.I.P.”

  • It's his beloved great Uncle Morty, the ancient hippy who'd once been a roadie for

  • The Grateful Dead.

  • Except, instead of reading the lines, “The cremation will take place at…”

  • OrThe burial service will be on…”

  • He reads, “Morty will be composted in our backyardon such and such a date.

  • What?!

  • Thinks the guy, old Morty is going where the corn husks go?

  • This can't be right.

  • But he'd be wrong to think that, because these days our nearest and dearest can be

  • composted and end up in the garden.

  • It's a fact, and one some parts of the church and a lot of other people in the US are not

  • over the moon about.

  • Ok, so we need to clear some things up before any of you get any ideas about seeing how

  • much space you have in your garden's compost heap.

  • There's quite a lot more to human composting than tossing your grandpa into a pile of rotten

  • apples and old potato peelings.

  • Back in 2019, when some people got wind of Washington State legalizing this kind of eco-burial

  • they weren't too pleased about it.

  • The Washington State Catholic Conference stepped up and said it was totally against it, calling

  • it an undignifying act.

  • Others were quick to say if you bury your grandfather right where you grow your vegetables,

  • won't that mean that at some point you'll be eating the old guy?

  • Isn't that a form of passive cannibalism?

  • First, let's have a look at a place called Herland Forest which is located in Washington

  • state.

  • It calls itself, a “Natural Burial Cemetery”, a place where dead bodies can rejoin thecircle

  • of life.”

  • There they've been composting certain animals such as sheep and goats for a long time, but

  • dead humans have lately come on to the scene.

  • They do something callednatural organic reduction”, which actually just means composting

  • but it tends not to freak people out as much as the word composting does.

  • It means putting the dead body in a kind of vessel, like a tube, that is full of organic

  • matter that will help break down the body.

  • The cylinder is rolled back and forth over time, helping the body to slowly turn into

  • soil.

  • They provided photos of this, but of course, they didn't use the real body of the deceased

  • person.

  • Instead, they used a living person just to give you an idea of what it looks like.

  • Basically, a body lies in the cylinder on top of a load of wood chips and other organic

  • matter such as straw and alfalfa.

  • They track the temperature, because the body must remain at a temperature of at least 131

  • F (55 C) and stay like that for three days.

  • Natural bacteria in humans help the breakdown process, but the people at this natural burial

  • cemetery speed it up by adding their own bacteria, protozoa, and fungi.

  • There's a bit more to the process, but all you really need to know is that the body becomes

  • mulch usually in three to seven weeks.

  • The outcome is about two barrow loads of nutrient-rich soil.

  • You might ask, why?

  • Why would anyone choose this method of disposal?

  • Well, it's eco-friendly, say the adherents to the process, and it's also not very expensive.

  • The average cost of a burial in the US is somewhere between $8,000 and $12,000, with

  • one consumer index saying the cost has gone up 227.1% in the last three decades.

  • Dying isn't cheap and burial takes up lots of space.

  • We went online and morbidly checked out the cost of caskets.

  • You can pick up a “Wood Casket Cherry Finish with Ivory Velvet Interiorfor just $1,350,

  • but if you're looking to turn heads at a funeral you might go for theLuxury Platinum

  • Coppercasket which will set you back almost $3,500.

  • Even a boring old pine box is $800 on some websites.

  • So, with all the other expenses, services fees, director fee, ceremony fee, you're

  • looking at an expensive day out.

  • Cremation is a bit cheaper, but then you're not going to help all those flowers and vegetables

  • grow and the process will also release carbon dioxide and mercury into the atmosphere.

  • At around $5,000, human composting is about the same price as cremation.

  • Sounds good, and we imagine in a few more minutes it's an option you might be interested

  • in for when you shuffle off this mortal coil.

  • There's something calledThe Urban Death Project”.

  • This is an idea relating to transforming what we do with the dead.

  • The leaders of the project say they want to build a “Recomposition centerin the

  • city of Seattle.

  • What this could mean is the composted dead end up going into the ground where a park

  • is built.

  • People just become part of the natural environment, rather than get turned into ashes and sit

  • atop someone's fireplace or take up space in the ground in a graveyard.

  • The supporters of this project say it's something that should have happened long ago,

  • given how much wood is used to make coffins and how many gallons of chemicals are used

  • in embalming.

  • It adds up to a lot given that dying is a day-to-day formality.

  • The total materials used in the US each year to bury and cremate people according to that

  • project is “30 million board-feet of hardwood, 90,000 tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of

  • concrete, and millions of gallons of formaldehyde-laden embalming fluid.”

  • Ok, so what about all those drugs people have taken in their lifetime?

  • Do they taint the soil?

  • What about those parts of the body that aren't organic, such as tooth fillings and artificial

  • hips?

  • The pro-composters say they take out those bits, and whatever drugs were in the person's

  • system or any other toxins are removed during the process.

  • As for the bits of bone left behind, they will be picked out by hand.

  • If you listen to these people, you might think, wow, why did this never happen before?

  • It sounds like a win-win for everyone besides people involved with the business of death.

  • You can be sure to hear a lot of pushback from them, it's how they earn their crust

  • in an industry that's presently worth over $21 billion.

  • Still, it seems more US states want to make human composting legal.

  • In 2021, the New York Times reported that Colorado could become the second state for

  • it to happen.

  • A bill was introduced by State Representative Brianna Titone who said she wasexcited

  • about what she saw after learning a bit about human composting.

  • California could also soon follow suit and there are bills that have been introduced

  • in New York and Oregon in support of the process.

  • Still, nothing much happened lately because of COVID, but now things might move forward.

  • As for compost being used to grow food in your garden, the bill in Colorado states that

  • the soil can't be used for that or even for growing food anywhere else.

  • While it doesn't really matter if a stranger eats a vegetable that grew in some soil that

  • had once partly been a human, it's a turn-off for some people.

  • Colorado would also make it illegal to sell the compost, for any purposes.

  • In the end, it would all be used for public land.

  • Still, it seems in Washington at least, the family can take the soil home with them and

  • use it in their own garden.

  • Let's face it, for some people being able to feed the ones you left behind could be

  • seen as an act of kindness.

  • Not everyone agrees, of course.

  • Many politicians right now support this kind of burial and have said it's a sign of the

  • times that people want to join that natural cycle again after they die.

  • Others have voted against human composting, saying it just isn't normal, that it's

  • a loss of dignity for the dead.

  • At the end of the day, there's a growing consensus that a person should have the right

  • to choose for themselves what happens after they die.

  • As for the Catholic Church, one archdiocesan said when he first heard about human composting

  • he thought it was a joke.

  • When he realized it wasn't, his reaction was that it was a travesty for the deceased.

  • In an interview, he said, “We don't 'dispose' of human remains.

  • We take care of them in great reverence in anticipation of the resurrection.”

  • He said that the Catholic church also asks people not to scatter the remains of the deceased

  • in the form of ashes for the very reason that they are a body in another form.

  • If you throw them into the sea, that body would be all over the place.

  • It's the same reason he doesn't like the idea of composting a person.

  • In Washington, what's seen by some as a progressive form of burial really rankled

  • local bishops.

  • In a statement, they said, “In memory of the death, burial, and resurrection of the

  • Lord Jesus Christ, the mystery that illumines the Christian meaning of death, burial is

  • above all the most fitting way to reflect faith and hope in the resurrection of the

  • body.”

  • The argument being, if someone ends up being part-carrot can they really go to heaven?

  • They also asked for more research into how this might affect the environment and public

  • health.

  • Others stated that greener types of traditional burials are also happening these days, but

  • still, this kind of thing doesn't happen that often.

  • In the UK, you can opt for a green burial, which means being buried without embalming

  • taking place and the coffin is made from materials that biodegrade fast.

  • Then you just become part of the land where the wildlife roam.

  • This is still a long way from human composting, though.

  • As for what funeral directors think about it, one of them told the LA times this: “It's

  • the stupidest thing I ever heard of.”

  • He commented on how he thought the bones wouldn't break down and that the price wasn't exactly

  • in line with thriftiness.

  • Nonethless, from what we've read, there's likely a good chance that in the future many

  • of you will opt to be composted.

  • Just think about it, back in the 1960s only about three percent of people in the US chose

  • to be cremated, and that's gone up to around fifty percent now.

  • In the past, quite a lot of peopledespite the fact they'd be deaddidn't like

  • the idea of being incinerated.

  • They and their families also hoped to get them to heaven in one piece.

  • Things have changed.

  • Fewer people believe you have to be in one piece to get there if they believe in heaven

  • at all.

  • Still, talking about human composting, people have pointed out that the wordshuman composting

  • are not all that pleasant to the ears.

  • That's why some proponents are calling itnatural organic reductionand other

  • nicer-sounding terms.

  • There are currently at least three operators doing this in Washington, but you can expect

  • more will come soon.

  • As for what the public think, one funeral director told the press, “We get calls all

  • over the country, actually all over the world, to see what is happening right here in Washington.”

  • One country they won't be getting calls from is Sweden, because it's been happening

  • there for around 15 years already.

  • Now you really need to watch, “What happens when you die,” Or, have a look at, “Funeral

  • Home Secrets They Don't Want You To Know.”

A guy is scrolling through Facebook and he sees those dreaded letters, “R.I.P.”

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Composting Humans is Now Legal in These US States

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    Summer posted on 2021/06/06
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