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Which States Currently Allow Soil Transformation?

By: Tom Harries

May 16, 2022 | Soil Transformation

4 min read

As awareness of the environmental harm caused by traditional funeral practices grows, more people are looking to green alternatives. 

One such alternative that is growing in both popularity and availability is soil transformation. Sometimes known as natural organic reduction or human composting, this is a process that is now practiced in a number of states in the US.

This article explains the soil transformation process, and looks at soil transformation legality and availability. It also looks at the benefits of the practice compared to other funeral options.

What Is Soil Transformation?

Soil transformation is a natural, environmentally-friendly alternative to burial and cremation. Rather than being incinerated and turned into ash as in cremation, a body is gently transformed into nutrient-rich soil.

Families choose how much soil they would like returned, and the rest can then be used to support vital conservation efforts. 

Hands holding soil - Earth soil transformation

The process uses organic materials and the principles of nature. Conditions found in the natural world are recreated by balancing elements such as carbon and nitrogen, and optimizing temperature and moisture levels. The body is broken down on a molecular level and the end result is healthy soil, which is perfectly suited for conservation uses.

Where Is Soil Transformation Legal?

As a green and appealing alternative to traditional funeral practices, interest in soil transformation is growing quickly. 

As awareness has grown, so has support. Four states have legalized the process and bills are currently in progress in several other states.

States That Allow Soil Transformation

Soil transformation is legal in Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Vermont.

Washington became the first state to legalize the process in 2019, with the law taking effect in May 2020. Colorado and Oregon followed suit in 2021; Vermont in 2022.

Bills to legalize soil transformation are currently in progress in California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York. View our tracker for full details of the legislation in each state.

Can Your Body Be Legally Composted After Death?

In the US, your body can be legally composted after death but only if the process takes place in a state that has passed legislation allowing it. 

If an individual would like to opt for soil transformation but they do not reside in a state where the process is legal, their body would have to be transported to another state after their passing.

The process has not been legalized by every state that has considered it. Bills were considered but did not pass in California, Maine and New York. However, supporters remain in these states with bills continuing to be re-proposed, and interest is growing in other states.

Where Does Soil Transformation Take Place?

Soil transformation providers have dedicated facilities which house individual vessels. After death, the body will be transported to the facilities, where the process can then start.

Earth facility based in Washington

At Earth, we own and operate the world's most advanced soil transformation facilities. We combine best-in-class technology with a peaceful, serene atmosphere. The result is a facility that reflects the beauty of the soil transformation process itself.

How To Find Soil Transformation Providers In Your State

You will first need to make sure that the process is legal in your state or a nearby state. You should be able to do most of your research online. 

When considering options you should look for a provider that is conveniently located, suits your budget and is transparent about the service provided and costs involved.

On our website we break down the steps involved in our process, and provide a quote based on a few simple questions. To read more about our service or get a quote, click here.

Legal Guidelines For Soil Transformation

Like all disposition methods, composting of human remains is strictly regulated. As with crematories, operators must have a soil transformation facility license, issued by the state’s funeral regulator.

Benefits Of Soil Transformation Vs. Traditional Burials

Soil transformation has some similarity to traditional burial in that the human body is returned to the ground at the end of life. However, composting is much more environmentally friendly. 

Traditional burial is a hugely resource-intensive process that involves the consumption of urban land at an unsustainable rate.

While soil transformation can have a very positive impact on soil health, burial tends to pollute our soil. Metals, wood and chemicals are buried in the ground in the form of caskets and embalming fluid. 

In the US alone, 4.3m gallons of embalming fluid are buried each year, along with 64.5 thousand tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete and 20 million board feet of hardwood.

Over recent decades, the appeal of traditional burial has diminished. Many people are put off by environmental concerns and many find alternatives like soil transformation a more attractive and appealing concept. 

Benefits Of Soil Transformation Vs. Cremation

Human composting has a more obvious conceptual similarity to cremation, with the body undergoing a transformation into remains. Rather than being incinerated and turned into ash, a body is transformed into nutrient-rich soil.

Again, soil transformation is a much more environmentally friendly option. Cremation is a fossil fuel driven process with high carbon emissions. Cremation involves temperatures of between 1200 and 2000°F. With the average cremation taking two hours, there is a significant energy requirement in creating and maintaining this heat.

Chimney emissions - cremation environment

The energy source for cremation is typically natural gas. The process therefore produces significant amounts of carbon dioxide. One cremation is estimated to produce 535 lbs of CO2. This is the equivalent of a 609 mile car journey in an average sized car.

The combustion of fossil fuels also causes the emission of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. Other noxious substances emitted include fine soot and mercury.

Explore

At Earth, we provide soil transformation services. If you are interested in this process, you can read about our soil transformation or get an instant online quote here.

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