What will happen to your body after you die? It’s a big decision that many people may not really want to think about. And now there’s a new option, an alternative to the usual practices of burial or cremation. Human composting just became legal in New York. It is the sixth state in the U.S. to allow the environmentally friendly practice, following California, Washington, Colorado, Vermont, and Oregon. The body is mixed with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw to naturally decompose over the course of a few months. The process generates about a cubic yard of soil. Your loved ones can use it in their gardens or scatter in your favorite places.
Recompose charges $7,000 for the human composting service, which we first learned about on Gizmodo. It’s pretty similar to choosing a reusable bag instead of paper or plastic at the grocery store. If you’re looking to do more to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint, the Washington-based company can help. According to estimates, 5.3 million gallons of embalming chemicals like formaldehyde are buried every year with dead bodies. And cremation leads to the release of about a metric ton of carbon dioxide per person. That’s roughly the same as the average U.S. car produces in three months.
You can donate the soil to the Bells Mountain Forest in Washington state. Based on the image above, it looks like a lovely place to spend eternity. Or family members receive eight cups of soil from each human composting, or can opt to pick up the entire pickup truck-load. They can scatter the soil as they would ashes, or bury it as they would for someone who wants a casket funeral. This isn’t the first environmentally friendly funeral idea we’ve come across. A company in the Netherlands makes coffins out of fungus for sale that help naturally decompose human bodies.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.