Colorado resident who chose legal composting is now soil

Their body was reduced to soil over a period of six months.
Ameya Paleja
Soil in a garden.Piyaset/ iStock

The unnamed Colorado resident who chose to be composted after their death instead of opting for a cremation or burial has now been laid to rest, NBC News reported

Cremation and burial are the most common ways of laying a person to rest after their death. While the former results in emissions, the latter takes up real estate and also carries the risk of embalming fluids reaching the groundwater. For those, who want to leave this world, with as little impact as possible, there is a new way out, called Natural Reduction. In simpler terms, it is composting the body into the soil. 

What is Natural Reduction?

It is an eco-friendly way of leaving this world wherein the body is placed in a specially designed vessel to allow it to compost and form soil. As NBC News reported, the remains of the Colorado resident were kept in the chamber with wood chips, alfalfa, straw, and a host of microorganisms for a period of six months at a site called The Natural Funeral

As the body composition begins, the temperature in the vessel begins to rise which keeps it sterile from other unwanted organisms and provides a more controlled decomposition of the body. Over a period of four to six months, the entire vessel is reduced to about a cubic yard of rich, organic soil.

As per current laws, the soil cannot be used to grow food for human consumption or be sold. It also cannot be mixed with soil from another individual who chooses to be laid to rest using the same method, without their permission, NBC News said in its report. The family and friends of the individual who was laid to rest spread the soil at the newly dedicated Colorado Burial Reserve, about 40 miles away from Colorado Springs. 

Is it legal?

Colorado's Bill that allows natural reduction was signed by the state's governor last May. Apart from Colorado, Washington is the other state where the process is formally allowed after a bill was passed in 2019, the first-ever in the U.S. A deathcare company called Recompose formally opened in the city of Seattle last year, offering these services. 

Other states like California, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, and New York are also considering legalizing natural reduction and have similar bills in the committee stage. Attempts to legalize the process in the state of Maine have failed. 

It is hardly a surprise then that out of the 15 sets of bodies for natural reduction at The Natural Funeral, three are from outside the state. 

Costing over $7,000, the natural reduction is pricier than a standard funeral but with the process taking four to six months to complete, it is unlikely to compete with a burial or cremation on price. 

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