Human composting (aka “natural organic reduction”) is a process by which the recently departed is transformed into nutrient-rich soil that can be used to grow things. It’s legal in four states, and a bill making its way through the legislature could add California to the list.
Democrat Cristina Garcia authored Assembly Bill 351. She says the 30-day process is environmentally friendly compared to traditional burials or cremation, pointing out that it can help remove carbon from the air.
“Your body basically goes into what looks like a mushroom, and it decomposes over the month. And at the end, your family will have soil that they can use to grow gardens, to grow some trees, some flowers,” Garcia explains. “It doesn’t use all the chemicals that a regular embalmment involves when you're gonna bury somebody in a box.”
Once a family receives the remains, they can choose to take the entire amount or donate some to conservationists.
Human composting in California has met opposition in the past, especially from the Catholic Church. But Garcia says the reactions aren’t just faith-based. “I think the biggest issue with this, more than the religious opposition, has just been the idea that a lot of us are really uncomfortable talking about death, talking about end of life.”
Garcia says if the bill passes, she wants to be composted. “I don't want them [family members] to go to a cemetery. I would love them to experience nature, to experience a tree. It's something that is special to me. It's something that brings me a lot of peace and harmony. And I want to share that type of experience with them.”