Well, I suppose it’s one way to boost employment numbers. If you live in New York, and you have that one family member who just refuses to get a job and leeches off friends and relatives, don’t worry: Semi-gainful employment could be in their future when the time finally comes for them to shuffle off this mortal coil. They can always nourish a rosebush or tree in someone’s yard.
Over the weekend, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed NY A00382. In a nutshell, so to speak, the bill adds “natural organic reduction” to cremation and burial as a way to dispose of human remains. How does it work? You’ll be sorry you asked, but since you did…
Just the News looked into it, sparing the rest of us the trouble. According to a Seattle funeral home called “Recompose,” (yes, that’s the name), the body is placed in a (reusable) stainless container. Alfalfa, straw, and woodchips are added and then, nature takes its course. The whole thing takes about six weeks, give or take, and any leftover teeth or bones are ground up. Then everything is packaged and shipped to the family as soil. Once the awkward moment of signing for the, uh, delivery is over, you can take comfort in knowing that human composting is a more eco-friendly internment option than burial or cremation. Which is why it has already been embraced by California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Of course, it has. I mean, if you have already decided that humans are a pestilence and a danger to the planet and that people are nothing more than organic machines, what better way to say goodbye to a loved one?
The legislation has been condemned by the New York State Catholic Conference. Executive Director Dennis Poust commented, “Just as Church teaching prohibits the scattering or dividing of cremated remains, it would not permit the spreading of composted human remains co-mingled with other organic matter to fertilize a garden.” Rabbi Avi Shafran, a public affairs director at Agudath Israel of America stated, “The idea of ‘utilizing’ a body as a growth medium is anathema to the honor due to a vessel that once held a human spirit.”
I mean, it’s your corpse and if this is how you want to repose and decompose, then by all means, compost away. But the whole thing just sounds creepy. I’ve buried both parents and lost grandparents and far too many friends over the years, and the idea just seems too dismissive and utilitarian for my tastes. But it does add a whole new vibe to the old Andrews Sisters’ song, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me.” Not that I could bring myself to actually eat anything that was fertilized by a relative’s remains. I mean, I suppose it’s okay but… eww.