How Does Human Composting Become Law?

While each state is different, we designed this article to give you an idea of what it takes to legalize human composting.

6 Steps to Legalize Human Composting

In the U.S., the laws governing human remains vary greatly from state to state, as do the processes for passing new laws. That said, to help you understand what it may take to legalize human composting in your state, we’ve simplified the process into six steps. Note that steps are often repeated and a lot of work occurs in between each step.

  1. Legislator decides to sponsor bill
  2. Draft of bill is introduced to Senate or House/Assembly
  3. Public testimonies happen before committees
  4. Constituent and industry demonstrate support
  5. Bill is approved by House/Assembly and Senate
  6. Bill is signed by Governor

Sample Path to Legalization

Washington State is the home of Recompose founder, Katrina Spade, which is why it was the first state to legalize human composting. The process took roughly two years, but most states that have followed Washington in passing legislation have taken less time. For example, it took Colorado less than a year.

Below is an overview of Washington State’s path to legislation.

2017

  • Katrina had coffee with her local representative, State Senator Jamie Pedersen, to discuss the concept.
  • Senator Pedersen recognized that more sustainable funeral choices would benefit his constituents and had his office draft a bill.
  • As the inventor of, and leading expert in, human composting, Recompose helped edit the bill and advised on best practices for safety and operations of a human composting facility.*

2018

  • The bill was introduced in the Washington State Senate.

2019

  • Through the winter and spring of 2019, Katrina visited Washington’s capital, Olympia, to speak with legislators on both sides of the aisle and explain the concept.
  • Recompose hired a public affairs team to help lobby for the bill.
  • As the bill moved through the Senate and then the House, members of the end-of-life community testified in committee, including a chaplain, funeral directors, individuals, and death doulas.
  • We rallied the Recompose community to send hundreds of letters to legislators during the session.
  • The bill passed and went on to Governor Inslee. He signed it on May 21, 2019.

2020

  • The law went into effect in May of 2020.

* Recompose has advised on language for bills and testified before committee in other states, too.

Support for Human Composting

We’ve observed that human composting is not only favorable for progressive environmentalists, it appeals to anyone with a deep connection to the land and a desire for more funeral options for themselves and their family. The fact that the process is derived from an agricultural practice (livestock composting) means that many farmers and their legislators understand the value and reasoning behind it. For these reasons, bills have seen bipartisan support in all states that have passed legislation.

Further Learning

Visit our Public Policy page for more information on each state that has legalized, or is working to legalize, human composting. We also recommend exploring these communities involved in changing death care laws that offer information and resources.

  • The Order of the Good Death
    The Order of the Good Death designs practical resources, pursues and amends legislation, and provides support for alternative forms of death care.
  • National Home Funeral Alliance
    The NHFA is dedicated to increasing access to information related to community-led death care and has multiple resources including books, videos, guides, and more about home funerals.

Connect Locally

Creating change on such a large scale may seem like a daunting task. But momentum is built when people come together and share ideas. Our goal is to connect inspired individuals to work together to create change in their community.

Fill out this short form and we’ll work to connect you with others in your state and notify you as progress is made.

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Join our growing community working to bring human composting to the world.

About Recompose

Recompose is a licensed, full-service, green funeral home in Seattle offering human composting. As the first human composting company in the world, we are a trusted leader in ecological death care. We are Seattle’s only human composting provider and serve clients across the U.S.

Recompose Seattle
4 S. Idaho St, Seattle, WA 98134

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Land Acknowledgement
Recompose acknowledges we make our lives and livelihoods on the lands of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Duwamish People. We honor with gratitude the Duwamish People past and present, the land itself, and the Duwamish Tribe. Colonization is an active, persistent process. Indigenous communities continue to be resilient in protecting their ecological and cultural lifeways and deathways despite ongoing oppression. Recompose respects, shares, and supports this commitment to climate healing and environmental justice. Join Recompose in contributing to Real Rent Duwamish.