Culture Wars/Current Controversies

California just legalized ‘human composting.’ Not everyone is happy.

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There are traditionally two options for what to do with a body after death: burial or cremation.

In California, a third choice will soon present itself for those who shuffle off this mortal coil. That choice is human composting.

Assembly Bill 351, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, will allow residents to choose human composting, or natural organic reduction (NOR), after death starting in 2027.

The process of composting a cadaver, already legalized in Washington, Colorado and Oregon, involves placing the body in a reusable container, surrounding it with wood chips and aerating it to let microbes and bacteria grow. After about a month, the remains will decompose and be fully transformed into soil. Companies such as Recompose in Washington offer the service at a natural organic reduction facility.

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