Human decomposition bill being considered in Washington


Courtesy of Pixabay

Washington could become the first state to offer human decomposition as an alternative to burial and cremation.

By Kendall Koch, Reporter

At the end of life, many people end up in a casket or in an urn, but Washington state residents may soon have the option to become one with nature.

The Washington State Legislature is now considering a bill that would allow human composting at the end of life’s journey. According to NBC, some Washington state residents are excited about the new way of being put to rest. Sen. Jamie Pederson (D-Seattle), said in an interview with NBC that she had residents emailing her about the “prospect of becoming a tree or having a different alternative for themselves.”

Pederson said she plans to introduce the new bill when the new legislative session begins next month.

I think it is an interesting approach to death and what we do with human remains after you pass away,”

— Erik Budsberg, EWU Sustainability Coordinator

Human decomposition involves placing bodies in a vessel and hastening their decomposition into a nutrient-dense soil that can then be returned to families. The goal is to provide a less expensive way of dealing with human remains that is better for the environment than burial, which can allow chemicals to leak into the ground, or cremation, which can release carbon dioxide into the air, according to NBC.

Laura Johnson, a sophomore and environmental science major, said she thinks that this new bill is a good approach to help the environment.

“I think that yes, it could help the environment as a whole, but would take time to catch ground,” Johnson said. “I think many people would see an issue with it not following tradition or whether it is cost effective or not, but just thinking of the environment I think would be great.”

Traditional burials in certain religions restrict cremation, like Catholicism or Eastern Orthodox, since it was preferred to bury the dead.

Erik Budsberg, the sustainability coordinator for EWU, said that it could have a positive impact on the soil where the person is buried.

“I think it is an interesting approach to death and what we do with human remains after you pass away,” Budsberg said. “In general, composting has a lot of great benefits for water retention and adding nutrients to soil, so if the human composting process follows a similar pattern then I can see the potential environmental benefit.”

While this new bill may seem horror movie-esque, the possible benefits of reducing global warming or saving the soil from harmful chemicals may be enough to make this bill a reality.