California legalizes human composting

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 10:59 AM CDT
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ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (KCBS) - In California, an alternative method to burial or cremation referred to as human composting was recently signed into law.

“It’s entirely natural. So, the microbes that are in our body will go to work,” Carolyn Maezes, the co-founder and COO of Earth Funeral. “And they will start to break down our body at a molecular level.

So, it’s those microbes, and the additional natural amendment, the wood chips and the wildflowers and mulch, that they all together will essentially create compost.”

The company Earth Funeral began using this method of disposing of bodies in March in Washington where human composting is legal and environmentally safe.

Maezes said human composting doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, relative to cremation which emits about 540 pounds of CO2 per process.

“It’s far less resource intensive than traditional burial which requires concrete, steel, hardwoods to be buried underground and those lands to be maintained in perpetuity,” Maezes said.

After two earlier attempts, the human composting bill brought forward by assembly member Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens was signed into law by the governor over the weekend. It will become an alternative burial option starting in 2027.

“I didn’t know that. That’s news to me. I don’t think I like that. I think I like the other two options,” Orange County resident JJ Budd said.

Other Orange County residents shared the same sentiment as Budd.

“Ah, I don’t know what I think about that. I don’t think I’ll be comfortable with that,” Lizbeth Nieto said.

While some residents were open to the idea.

“That sounds like something I’d like to do then,” Dante Cimarusti said. “The environment is probably one of the most important things, like me as a young person, can care about today so, yep.”

Earth Funeral provides families with containers of soil to scatter or plant. The cost for the service is around $5,000.