Arizona approves 'human composting' with 'Grandpa in the Garden' bill

"There is something in us that wants to return to the Earth," terramation provider Return Home CEO Micah Truman said.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

Arizona has become the latest state in the nation to allow terramation, also known as human composting, as an alternative to traditional burial methods and cremation.  

House Bill 2081 and Senate Bill 1042, also referred to as the "Grandpa in the Garden Bill," was signed into law by Governor Katie Hobbs on March 29 and gives accredited funeral providers the ability to offer the service. While terramation has grown in popularity over the years, it has faced backlash from many, including religious groups. 

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Laurin Hendrix and Sen. TJ Shope, was passed in both chambers with little opposition after being introduced in December of last year. 

As the Tucson Sentinel reports, terramation is currently only legal in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, New York, Vermont, and Nevada, however many other states are in the process of changing laws prohibiting the practice. 

"This is all about choice," said Natural Organic Reduction of Arizona lobbyist Jake Hinman. "If this process doesn't make sense to you, there are many other options out there for your loved ones, but for those that this does make a lot of sense to, we just want to have this option for Arizonans, and it's really as simple as that." 

The process begins by lining a vessel with organic materials such as straw and woodchips. The body is then placed inside and covered by a compostable blanket along with more organic material. After that, the vessel is sealed and allowed to sit for up to two months. By then, the body has fully decomposed and turned into soil, which is given to the family of the deceased. It costs around $6,000, far cheaper than traditional burial services. 

"There is something in us that wants to return to the Earth," terramation provider Return Home CEO Micah Truman said. "When we're done we have a material that can then be used to restart the cycle of life." 

Among those who have criticized the practice are Catholics groups.

"A process whereby human remains are composted and scattered 'in a designated scattering garden or area in a cemetery' fails to sufficiently respect the dignity due to deceased," the New York State Catholic Conference said in a statement last year. 

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