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Why is Human Composting Illegal in Most States

In recent years, the world has witnessed a growing interest in eco-friendly burial alternatives, and human composting has emerged as a promising option. While this environmentally conscious method of decomposition holds great potential, it remains prohibited in certain states across the United States. Let’s delve into the legal barriers that hinder the widespread adoption of Terramation (also known as human composting), exploring the arguments against it and the implications for the future.


Why is Human Composting Not Yet Legal in Most States

The Status Quo and Traditional Funeral Industry:

The primary reason human composting faces legal hurdles lies in the deeply entrenched practices of the traditional funeral industry. For decades, burial and cremation have been the predominant methods for handling human remains, making it difficult for newer, eco-conscious alternatives to gain acceptance. The funeral industry’s considerable influence on lawmakers and policymakers has resulted in resistance towards changes that could potentially disrupt their lucrative business model. In some states, funeral homes and crematoriums have actively lobbied against the legalization of human composting, fearing it could affect their market share and profits.

Lack of Legislative Framework:

Another significant obstacle and reason to why human composting remains illegal in most states, is the absence of a comprehensive legislative framework. As this concept is relatively new, many states lack the specific regulations required to address the unique aspects of human composting. The lack of clear guidelines creates uncertainty, making it challenging for businesses like Return Home to navigate the legal landscape and provide their services legally. Advocates of human composting have been working diligently to engage with legislators and regulatory bodies, seeking to develop appropriate standards and regulations that ensure safe and environmentally responsible practices.

Misconceptions and Taboos of Human Composting:

Human composting challenges cultural norms and perceptions surrounding death and funerals. Despite its potential for sustainability and environmental benefits, some individuals and religious groups associate human composting with disrespect towards the deceased. Misconceptions about the process and the belief that it goes against traditional customs have led to opposition, resulting in the prohibition of this alternative burial method in certain states. To counter these misconceptions, education and public outreach are essential to enlightening communities about the merits and cultural sensitivity of human composting.

Health and Safety Concerns:

Opponents of human composting often raise concerns about public health and safety. They argue that composting human remains might pose a risk of spreading diseases or contaminants, potentially impacting soil quality. However, advocates of human composting, like Return Home, emphasize that their process is carefully controlled, adhering to rigorous standards to ensure safety and mitigate any potential risks. They point to successful examples of human composting practices in other countries and scientific research that supports the safety of the process when carried out appropriately.

Scientific and Technical Understanding:

Some states prohibit human composting due to the limited scientific research and understanding of the process. While human composting has been practiced on a smaller scale, there is a lack of large-scale, long-term studies to provide robust scientific evidence supporting its safety and effectiveness. Thus, lawmakers might err on the side of caution until more concrete data is available. However, many proponents argue that restricting the practice inhibits the collection of comprehensive scientific data. Legalizing human composting would enable researchers to conduct more extensive studies and advance our understanding of this eco-friendly burial method.


Why Human Composting SHOULD Be Legal and Accesable to All

Environmental Benefits of Human Composting:

Human composting offers significant environmental advantages over traditional burial and cremation. Unlike cemeteries that consume large amounts of land, composting facilities require less space, enabling us to conserve valuable natural resources. Additionally, the process generates nutrient-rich compost that can revitalize soil and contribute to sustainable agriculture. Embracing human composting can significantly reduce our ecological footprint and help combat the environmental challenges we face today. With growing concerns about climate change, the legalization of human composting becomes a logical step towards environmental stewardship.

Carbon Footprint Reduction:

Cremation, a widely accepted alternative to burial, emits a substantial amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. In contrast, human composting has the potential to be carbon-negative, as it sequesters carbon from the body into the soil, aiding in the fight against global warming. By supporting the legalization of human composting, we can take a step closer to achieving a more sustainable future. Lawmakers should consider the long-term environmental implications of their decisions and recognize the role human composting can play in mitigating climate change.

Personal Connection and Healing:

Advocates of human composting, like Return Home, emphasize the potential for a more intimate and healing experience for the bereaved. Unlike traditional funeral practices that involve detachment from the body, human composting allows families to be more hands-on in the process, fostering a deeper sense of connection and closure. The transformative journey from body to compost nurtures the cycle of life, presenting a unique way to honor the deceased. Lawmakers and society at large should respect the diverse needs of families seeking environmentally conscious death care options.

Ethical Considerations of Human Composting:

Human composting aligns with ethical values, respecting the natural process of decomposition and the interconnectedness of life. It avoids the use of harmful chemicals and fossil fuels, promoting a more ethical approach to death care. By embracing human composting, we affirm our commitment to responsible stewardship of the Earth and a compassionate approach to both life and death. Legalizing human composting reflects a society’s evolution towards values that prioritize sustainability, empathy, and ecological awareness.

Potential for Scientific Advancements:

As human composting gains traction, it will likely attract more research and scientific exploration. Large-scale studies can provide valuable insights into the process, addressing health and safety concerns comprehensively. With adequate scientific evidence, lawmakers can be better informed to develop appropriate legislation that regulates human composting without hindering its potential. Supporting research initiatives and encouraging scientific exploration can lead to a clearer understanding of the benefits and limitations of human composting.

Human composting presents a sustainable and environmentally conscious solution to the age-old challenge of handling human remains. By understanding the environmental benefits, debunking misconceptions, and acknowledging the potential for personal healing, we can advocate for a greener future and push for the legalization of human composting in more states. Return Home and similar providers exemplify the positive impact this alternative burial method can have on our planet and our relationship.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Annette Becker

    Is there any way to be assured the funeral parlor doing the procedure is ethical. I read it was discovered one well know company had rotting bodies laying in tables.. Maybe they just got thrown in a dump.
    Again, is there any government oversight of these funeral parlors that do human composting?
    Thank You,, Annette

    1. Kali Thomas

      Hi Annette, great question. Of the states that have legalized natural organic reduction (also called human composting or terramation), only two currently have facilities that can compost people. Those two states are Washington (where Return Home is located) and Colorado. Return Home (as well as the other funeral homes that specialize in human composting) is overseen by the state Department of Health and the state Funeral Board. We are regularly inspected and our paperwork reviewed to ensure that we are following all state laws and guidelines. Aside from that, everyone here at Return Home is dedicating to caring for the living and the deceased to the best of our abilities. We work hard to make sure that people are treated with dignity, respect, and kindness.

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