• Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said human composting will help reduce carbon emissions
  • NOR inventor Katrina Spade praised California's move of approving "nature-based death care"
  • Despite the scientific evidence backing the move, Twitter users were quick to react negatively

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law this week that will allow the state to create guidelines related to human composting as an alternative to burial or cremation. Twitter users have since called it an "insane" move, even as the bill's mastermind said the process, scientifically referred to as natural organic reduction (NOR), should help with carbon footprint reduction.

Assembly Bill 351 or the Cemetery and Funeral Act, which was signed by Newsom earlier this week, states that starting Jan. 1, 2027, the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau will be required to establish regulations for the "disposition of reduced human remains by integration into the soil."

Brought into the spotlight by assembly member Cristina Garcia, the bill initially failed to reach the Democratic governor's table twice. Garcia celebrated the milestone through a Twitter post, urging the community to join the cause in reducing carbon emissions.

Garcia further explained in a reply to a Twitter user that every individual who opts for NOR over conventional after-death methods "saves the equivalent of one metric ton of carbon from entering the environment."

According to the co-founder and COO of green funeral home Earth Funeral, Carolyn Maezes, composting human remains does not emit carbon dioxide.

"It's far less resource intensive than traditional burial which requires concrete, steel, hardwoods to be buried underground and those lands to be maintained in perpetuity, Maezes told the outlet KCBS.

NOR was invented by Katrina Spade, the CEO and co-founder of death care company Recompose, which advocates for green funerals. "Recompose is thrilled that the options for nature-based death care in California have expanded," Spade said, according to a press release on Garcia's government website.

California's move follows the lead of Washington, which became the first state to approve human composting as an alternative to traditional methods when Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5001 in 2019 to legalize the process. Colorado legalized human composting in 2021, and Oregon and Vermont followed suit.

When Washington approved human composting, Spade said the process "provides significant savings in carbon emissions," adding that NOR "uses one-eighth the energy of cremation," Bloomberg Law reported.

Spade also previously told Bloomberg Environment that researchers in the Netherlands found recomposition "performed the best in the global warming potential category" when they conducted life cycle studies that compared after-death options.

While green funeral advocates have insisted that California's approval of human composting should help reduce carbon emissions, some Twitter users were not very happy with it and shared their thoughts on the microblogging site.

One user called the move "evil and insane," while another argued that global produce buyers may "no longer trust the quality of Californian soil" due to the new after-death option.

Another user called Democrats in California "sick and inhuman." Both Newsom and Garcia are Democratic politicians.

Newsom has yet to respond to the backlash over AB 351, but he said in a Thursday interview that California's climate-related laws are "putting passion into action."

Compost is organic material that can be added to plants to help them grow. This may include everyday waste such as food scraps and yard waste. Pixabay