Burying people is a thing of the past, the fashion now is to use it to grow tomatoes: the US approves the composting of human beings
"He who follows it gets it," says the old Castilian saying. And, at least in the case of defenders of human composting, it seems to be true. Finally, and after many attempts, the US state of Washington has become the first to allow the conversion of bodies into compost.
Starting in 2020, Washingtonians will be able to die in a completely environmentally friendly way. Or, perhaps more accurately, they will be able to ensure that their remains are part of the cycle of life. And it is that, according to Katrina Spade, one of the great defenders of the idea, there is no better tribute to your loved ones than to transform them into a tree.
When your loved ones weigh two compost carts
The State Governor, Jay Inslee, signed the law on the 21st of this month giving free rein to a project that has been underway for many years and that will enter into force, if all goes well, on May 1, 2020. With this law, Authorized companies may introduce two new techniques in the funeral world:
- The first will be this "natural organic reduction", mixing the body with biodegradable products such as wood chips or straw to turn it into compost in a few weeks);
- The second is called "alkaline hydrolysis" and consists of dissolving body tissues with a mixture of potassium hydroxide and water at high temperatures. Two hours and only bones are left.
In the case of composting, the technique is inspired by the treatment done by cattle farmers in the region. Although much more secure and controlled. Spade's team, for example, has managed to develop small hexagonal sarcophagi that, using organic acceleration techniques, decompose the corpses in thirty days.
During the debate on the law, which has been very long and on which we have spoken on more than one occasion, defenders of human composting have explained that it is an eminently practical measure: the technique would be cheaper than the usual embalming, burial or incinerations, but above all its environmental footprint is much lower.
Every year, 2.7 million people die in the United States and most end up or buried in a coffin or cremated. According to the proponents, this system could avoid more than half a million metric tons of CO2 in 10 years. What is needed right now to produce the energy of 54,000 North American homes in one year. In addition, it would minimize other problems derived from groundwater contamination that occur in traditional cemeteries.
It is not clear if these benefits will materialize in the final systems that will be commercialized as of May 2020, but the tendency to transform the funeral industry into something eco friendly It has been running for many years. Almost ten years ago, the first companies began to propose this type of ideas, but they encountered legal limitations such as those that have just been raised in the United States. It seems only a matter of time before the green revolution reaches a sector that has been resting in peace perhaps too long.