New York Governor Has Officially Legalized Human Composting Statewide

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Jan. 6 2023, Updated 9:38 a.m. ET

Human Composting Recompose New York
Source: Recompose

UPDATE, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, 9:38 a.m. ET: New York just became the sixth state to legalize human composting, as Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed Assembly Bill A382 into law. The efforts of those who campaigned to make the eco-friendly burial practice legal in New York clearly paid off, and it will be exciting to see how this unfolds across the Empire State.

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PREVIOUSLY, as published Dec. 5, 2022: New York may be the next state to legalize human composting, an eco-friendly burial method that composts deceased human bodies and returns the remains to nature, as opposed to burying or cremating them.

As New York Governor Kathy Hochul prepares to — hopefully — sign the bill that would make human composting in New York a legal practice, advocates are encouraging people to share their support for this measure with the governor.

Keep reading for all the details on human composting, aka natural organic reduction or terramation, in the Empire State.

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Recompose Human Composting Vessel
Source: Recompose

Human composting could become legal in New York very soon.

Advocates of human composting are crossing their fingers that the burial practice becomes law in New York today, Dec. 5, 2022.

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Assembly Bill A382, which would recognize “the creation, operation, and duties of natural organic reduction facilities as cemetery corporations” in New York State, has already passed in the Assembly. Senate Bill S5535, the Senate’s version of the bill, has already passed in the Senate. This means that all that needs to happen to make this bill a law is Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature, as reported by The New York Times on Monday.

It’s unclear how Hochul will vote. It’s true that many lawmakers in New York voted in favor of legalizing terramation, and that many eco-conscious citizens support the practice.

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However, there has also been some pushback from opponents to human composting. For instance, the New York State Catholic Conference is encouraging Catholic people to ask Gov. Hochul to veto the bill, arguing that the process “does not provide the respect due to bodily remains,” as reported by The Catholic Courier.

Support human composting in New York State by emailing Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Monday morning, the Order of the Good Death tweeted that this bill “may be on Governor Hochul’s desk for her signature today.” The Order, a group that works on solutions, resources, legislation, and support in the realm of death care, is urging supporters of human composting to email Gov. Hochul, and urge her to sign the bill into law. You can check out the Order’s template here.

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Recompose, the company founded by Katrina Spade that has pioneered the modern form of natural organic reduction in the U.S., also has a template on its website that you can use to email Gov. Hochul.

If the bill becomes law, the practice will not start in the U.S. immediately, as it will take some time for natural organic reduction funeral homes to open. In the meantime, there are already five states where human composting is legal, as well as a few companies where dead human bodies can be composted.

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What states allow human composting?

As of publication, human composting is legal in five states: Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and California.

Recompose, Return Home, and other companies are already offering human composting.

As previously mentioned, Recompose is spearheading human composting in the U.S. The full-service funeral home is based in the Seattle area, and has plans to open a second location in Colorado.

Earth offers human composting services to anyone in the Pacific Northwest, at its two facilities in Washington and Oregon.

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Return Home serves the deceased in Auburn, Wash. — though the company actually provides services to anyone in the U.S. and Canada.

The Natural Funeral, serving Colorado residents, not only offers human composting services, but the company also offers green burials, water cremation (aka aquamation), and traditional cremation.

And interestingly, human composting at the above funeral homes can actually be comparable in price to traditional burial and cremation in the U.S. — so it's exciting to see more and more states legalize the eco-friendly and somewhat affordable practice.

This article, originally published on Dec. 5, 2022, has been updated.

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