THE problem of how to dispose of human remains has always been a sensitive one, with culture, religious beliefs, superstition and pure squeamishness all playing a part in the process around the world. One thing is for sure, it is something that will happen to us all one day, with Washington set to become the first US state to legalise a relatively new form of dispatch – human composting. As the name suggests, the body is allowed to break down naturally in special (organic) earth and then “reintroduced” to the land without the environmental damage caused by normal burial or cremation. Many environmentally conscious people think it is ironic that one of the most damaging processes for the planet happens after your death. For example Nina Schoen, 48, an activist for the change in the law said “I don’t want to leave a toxic footprint when I go”.
However the process may need a serious re-branding to convert some people, not least with the name. “I think the vision that some people have is that you throw Grandpa out in the backyard with the food scraps” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen who supports the bill. The process actually allows bodies to break down naturally and faster than “conventional” burial and with far less of a carbon footprint than cremation. Human nature means that many people are particularly averse to change in the sensitive area that is the burial process. Cremation took years to become accepted and religious belief in particular pushed against it until the church started confirming that the body is just a vessel for your soul, if you believe in that sort of thing.