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Oregon Legalizes Composting Human Remains

Marcus Spiske

Oregonians now have a new option for what happens to their body after they die. Those wary of burial or cremation now have the choice to convert their dead body into soil.

Oregon Legislature just approved a bill that allows composting of human remains.

Pam Marsh, a state representative from Jackson County, sponsored the bill. She says adding this option might make people more comfortable with these difficult decisions.

“My belief is that if there’s an option out there that meets health and safety codes, been validated by science, there’s no reason we shouldn’t make all of those options available," said Marsh. "These are tough choices and people need to be able to make choices that align with their values.”

The composting process, called natural organic reduction is seen as a more sustainable alternative to cremation and burial, using less land, chemicals and energy.

Additionally, Marsh says some people are drawn to the concept of their body naturally returning to the earth.

“For people who connect with this idea, I think it’s a choice that can make them feel better about having to think about death and comfort in terms of how they envision people remembering them after the fact,” she said.

It takes four to six weeks for the remains to turn into soil, which is then safe for gardening and general use.

The bill goes into effect in July of 2022.