Rhode Island Rep. Michelle McGaw is advocating for the legalization of “human composting” in the state. The proposed legislation would allow Rhode Islanders to choose natural organic reduction as an alternative to cremation or burial, as it is a greener option that may be preferred by those who are concerned about their final wishes’ impact on the planet. Human composting is carried out in specialized facilities, where deceased bodies are placed inside vessels filled with natural matter, such as straw and flowers, to speed up the decomposition process. The vessel and its contents are kept in a warm chamber for four to seven weeks before they are fully transformed into nutrient-rich soil. McGaw’s bill would establish laws regulating the creation and operation of natural organic reduction facilities in Rhode Island, with the Rhode Island Department of Health responsible for licensing and regulating them. After the process is complete, the soil must be scattered in a designated garden cemetery, placed in a grave, crypt, or niche, or returned to the deceased’s family. Five other states, including New York, have already legalized human composting since Washington first did so in 2019. Although McGaw does not expect Rhode Island to pass the bill in its current form, she hopes that it will begin a conversation about offering the practice legally in the state for people who want to take the greenest, most environmentally friendly route in death.

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