Story at a glance

  • Human composting is the process of breaking down human remains into soil to be reused.
  • Washington is currently the only state in the country that permits human composting.
  • Lawmakers in Colorado are now considering legalizing the process in their state.

When you die, you can be buried, cremated, even turned into a diamond. But until recently, returning to the soil was a much longer process.

Now, Colorado lawmakers are weighing a bill that would make it the second state in the country to allow human composting.

“It’s an innovative idea in a state that prides itself on natural beauty and opportunities,” state Sen. Robert Rodriguez, one of the bill's sponsors, told the Denver Post.


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The new bill would legalize "natural reduction," which is the process that accelerates the biological decomposition of bodies, while placing certain restrictions on the soil, including selling the soil or using it to grow food for human consumption. 

Currently, the law dictates burial, cremation, internment and entombment, but the new legislation would replace these terms with "final disposition," which includes natural reduction. These laws dictate everything from life insurance, pension plans and even missing person reports. 

Washington became the first state to legalize the process in 2019, going into effect the next year, and there are now three licensed facilities in the state. It takes several weeks to fully compost the body, in a process that includes wood chips, oxygen and a mix of bacteria, protozoa and fungi. 


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Published on Apr 12, 2021