New York state has officially legalized so-called human composting, making it the sixth state to allow human beings to authorize turning their remains into organic material after they die, mostly for the benefit of local flora and fauna.
On Saturday, Governor Kathy Hochul (D) signed legislation permitting people to seek a process that Shakespeare’s Hamlet aptly describes as fatting “ourselves for maggots” but that others call a more environmentally friendly means of decomposition. Rather than cremating or embalming a deceased person and placing him or her in a casket, this process, billed as “natural organic reduction,” involves placing the deceased in a reusable receptacle filled with organic materials, such as wood chips, alfalfa, or straw; infusing the receptacle with heat and oxygen; and allowing microbes to decompose the body naturally. All remaining teeth and other bone fragments are then ground up and mixed into the composted material as well.
According to proponents, a single human body can yield as much as a cubic yard of nutrient-dense soil amendment, which Fox News claims is “the equivalent of about 36 bags of soil.” And while Hamlet’s gravedigger insists that an average human corpse takes “some eight year or nine year” to rot — so long as “he be not rotten before he die” — natural organic reduction supposedly takes just a few weeks, making it appealing to those living in urban areas where burial space is limited, as well as to the environmentally conscious.
“Cremation uses fossil fuels and burial uses a lot of land and has a carbon footprint,” said Katrina Spade, the founder of Recompose, a full-service green funeral home in Seattle that offers human composting.
In 2019, Washington became the first state to legalize human composting. Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and California quickly followed suit. Now, New York has joined this league of left-leaning states as well.
However, despite evidence of growing interest in human composting, many Christians have condemned the practice as beneath the dignity of the human person.
The New York State Catholic Conference issued a statement claiming that “composting is a process typically used for household or agricultural waste, and does not provide the respect due to bodily remains.”
“A process that is perfectly appropriate for returning vegetable trimmings to the earth is not necessarily appropriate for human bodies,” added Dennis Poust, the executive director of the conference.
Hochul, who brags on her website that she was “raised in a blue-collar Irish Catholic family in Buffalo,” apparently ignored this advice from her state’s Catholic leaders.
Daily Wire reporter and self-described “unabashed church lady” Megan Basham also indicated that the euphemism “human composting” itself is further evidence of “a horrifying anti-human culture.”
— Megan Basham (@Megan Basham)
According to Recompose, the human composting option costs approximately $7,000 and provides people with the opportunity to give Mother Earth one final parting gift.
“For a lot of folks, being turned into soil that can be turned to grow into a garden or tree is pretty impactful,” Spade claimed.
Or, as Hamlet explains with more macabre precision: “A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.”