California will legalize human composting by 2027 as other states hop on the bandwagon

People who want to “compost their loved ones” in California now don’t need to wait until it becomes legal in 2027.

California residents who are looking for alternative environmentally-friendly burials can now look to a budding industry designed to accommodate their loved ones’ final wishes.

Blaire Van Valkenburgh lost her husband to pancreatic cancer and, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, sought to have his body composted.

“But this kind of burial — natural organic reduction — won’t be legal in California until 2027, so Van Valkenburgh paid to fly her husband’s body to Washington, the first state to legalize human composting in 2020,” according to the Times.

The report notes that more Americans are choosing to cremate loved ones but “cremation is also an environmental nightmare.”

Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, New York, Nevada, Arizona, Maryland, Delaware and California have joined Washington in legalizing “natural organic reduction” while bills are pending in a dozen other states.

“[I]n the first of what will probably be other such collaborations, the family-owned Clarity Funerals and Cremation in Anaheim has partnered with Return Home to offer a package deal for people in Southern California who want to compost their loved ones in Washington,” the LA Times reported.

Three human composting mortuaries in Washington “have reported steady business from out-of-state customers, especially Californians, who are either flying or driving their deceased loved ones north,” the outlet noted.

“I love the outdoors and I really want to be a tree in my afterlife,” former Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia told the LA Times.

“My family has a crypt in Mexico, where there are no trees or shade around …. I want my soil to be used specifically for a plum tree, my favorite fruit, and my loved ones can visit me there,” Garcia, who says she authored the California bill, added.

The LA Times reported:

Depending on the mortuary, the cost of human composting can range from $4,950 at Earth and Return Home to $7,000 at Recompose. People from out of state must also cover costs like transportation and preparing an unembalmed body to be safely shipped. Return Home’s partner Clarity charges Southern Californians $6,950, plus the cost of air freight to ship the body to Seattle, about $410 on Alaska Airlines, plus taxes and security screening fees. Once Earth opens its facility in Nevada, it will only charge Southern Californians $4,950, without additional transportation charges, because it’s closer to the region, said communications director Haley Morris.


Return Home CEO Micah Truman came up with the trademark term, “terramation.”

“You don’t say, ‘I’m going to incinerate Mom.’ You call it ‘cremation,’ and it sounds like a milkshake,” he said. “We came up with terramation — ‘terra’ for earth and ‘mation,’ as in transform — because if we have a better lexicon, it will help people have less fear.”


Frieda Powers


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