The governor of the state of Washington signed a bill authorizing new options in death care. CNN reported, “Washington has become the first state in the nation to pass a law allowing composting as an alternative to burial or cremation of human remains.”
The bill describes the process as a “contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.” Katrina Spade, a leader in developing this process, calls it natural organic reduction, or recomposition. She has founded a public benefit company that is preparing to offer the service in WA in late 2020. See recompose.life for information about the process and the people working on this initiative.
The bill, which will go into effect May 2020, also allows another choice for body disposal: aquamation (variously known as alkaline hydrolysis, bio-cremation, water cremation, or resomation). Aquamation has already been available in some states (e.g., Maine, Florida, and Oregon), but not in Massachusetts or, until recently, in Washington. In Seattle, the Co-op Funeral Home of People’s Memorial offers the service now by working with a company in Portland, Oregon. To quote from the Co-op’s website, “Aquamation is a gentle process that uses water, temperature, pressure, and alkalinity to reduce the body to bones which are then processed into ‘ashes’ and returned to the family in an urn. Cremation does the same reduction using flame. Unlike cremation, there are no emissions with aquamation. It uses about 1/8th the energy.” See the Co-op Funeral Home’s website for more information.