Washington got that one signature it was waiting for on Tuesday when Governor Jay Inslee signed bill 5001, an item of legislation that makes the state the first in the U.S. to legalize human composting.
Starting in May 2020, citizens who don’t want their bodies cremated or buried after death can opt for composting — and now that one state has legalized the environmentally friendly alternative, others could follow suit.
The newly signed bill makes it legal for licensed facilities to offer a service called “natural organic reduction.”
This involves placing human remains in a chamber along with organic materials, such as wood chips and straw. After about four weeks in the chamber, the body is transformed into a nutrient-packed soil that’s returned to the deceased’s family.
Supporters of human composting say that the process is less taxing on the environment than cremation, which pumps carbon dioxide into the air, or traditional burials, which involve chemicals that can pollute groundwater — and Washington might not be the only state where it’s legal for long.
Rob Goff, executive director of the Washington State Funeral Directors Association, told The Seattle Times that “people are talking about changing means of disposition all over the country.”
“There hasn’t been a lot of change in the past 100 years of funeral service,” he added. “Now we get to be the front-runners.”
READ MORE: Washington becomes first state to legalize human composting [The Seattle Times]
More on composting: Washington Is One Signature Away From Legalizing Human Composting