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People in Washington state can now literally push up daisies after their death — as the first human composting efforts in the country recently began there, according to a new report.
Two facilities in the Evergreen State received their first bodies for human composting — also known as “natural organic reductions” — last month, local outlet KOIN reported.
Herland Forest, a nonprofit research center in Klickitat County, is one of them.
Walt Patrick, senior steward at the facility, told the station the “natural organic reductions” are an investment, and it could take several weeks before the composting process is complete.
The process begins when the body is placed in a “NOR cradle” along with 200 gallons of wood chips, Patrick said. Bacteria, protozoa and fungi are dispensed into the mixture to speed up the process. Oxygen is also added to keep it between 145 and 155 degrees.
Solar panels provide extra heat as needed.
The final result is four 55-gallon drums full of usable compost, according to Patrick.
The family of the deceased can decide to keep all of it, or donate a portion to Herland Forest to help grow new trees in the cemetery.
“This is simply another option at a time when people feel they have no options,” Patrick told the station. “You know, death has intervened and changed your life forever. How can you do something at least to make it the way you want?”
Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation in 2019 legalizing human composting. Advocates say that composting uses less energy than cremation, calling it a greener alternative, according to the local report.
Composting is now the only legal way for Washingtonians to be laid to rest on their own property, though in the form of mulch, according to the outlet.
Besides Herland Forest, the Seattle-based facility Recompose has also begun the process — with eight bodies so far, a spokesperson told the outlet. A total of 420 “Precompose” members have made advance payments for their future death care.
A third facility, Return Home in Auburn, expects to open later this year.
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