April 16, 2024

‘Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ – Colorado takes the ancient rubrics literally

Another state legalizes human composting

Last month Colorado became the second American state, after Washington, to permit human bodies to be turned into compost. The process takes about a month. The body is placed in a pod with alfalfa, straw, and wood chips. The container is slowly rotated and oxygen is pumped in to promote decomposition.

The bill, which sailed through both houses of the State Legislature, also places certain restrictions on the compost, including a ban on selling it or using it to grow food for human consumption. It also prohibits the mixing of human remains without the various persons’ consent.

Representative Brianna Titone, who introduced the bill, was delighted. “I’m just really proud to give this option to people here in Colorado, which have the Colorado way of life in mind … And when people pass away, they can feel like they lived in Colorado and they can give back to Colorado and help the earth,” she said.

According to environmentalists the process is less energy intensive, and the resulting product can be used for fertilizer in gardens, houseplants or to replenish open fields. It is already being done with cow carcasses. Why not humans?

Human composting or “natural organic reduction” is also being considered in a few other states including New York and Delaware.

As Vincenzina Santoro pointed out in MercatorNet, people with long memories might recall the crematoriums of the Nazi era. Ashes from the ovens were used as fertilizer.

As the Family Policy Institute of Washington noted a couple of years ago: “[there’s] a critical distinction between cremation and human-composting. With human-composting, the goal is to use the human body, that is to say, to instrumentalize the body, treating it as if it possesses no more intrinsic worth than fertilizer.”

Similar bills are being considered in Delaware and Oregon.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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