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Fitness & Health

25th Mar 2022

Man turned to compost in eco-friendly funeral before being scattered across the ground

Kieran Galpin


It will set you back £5,994

While many people probably assume that those of us who get buried ultimately become one with the dirt, the first man to be legally composted into soil in Colorado was laid to rest earlier this month.

The Natural Funeral, a Colorado-based funeral services provider, is at the cutting edge of eco-friendly burials. Known as ‘natural reduction’, the process entails human remains being allowed to compost over a fairly long period of time.

On March 20, dozens of people spread the soil – that was once a man – at the newly unveiled Colorado Burial Preserve, 40 miles from Colorado Springs. Before the spreading ceremony, the non-embalmed remains were laid to rest in hand-dug graves.

But how does it work?

Well, six months ago the remains of the unnamed individual were placed in an air-filtered space, alongside wood chips, alfalfa plant, straw, and what the funeral home said are “a lot of microbial beings.” The microbes then convert the remains to soil, as they would naturally.

The law was passed by Governor Jared Polis in July 2021, according to NBC News affiliate KUSA. However, the law “prohibits the soil of multiple people to be combined without their permission, for the soil to be used to grow food for human consumption or for it to be sold.”

Washington was the first US state to legalise the method back in 2019 when Senator Jamie Pedersen said: “That’s a serious weight on the earth and the environment as your final farewell.”

In the UK, there have been no known compost burials, with the closest method being “Green burials” where you are buried in biodegradable caskets.

The Natural Funeral claims its process has “no appreciable carbon emissions or release of toxic fumes in contrast to flame cremation” and does not “take up any real estate as a conventional burial might.”

Now, the business has taken 15 more sets of remains for ‘natural reduction’ and has expanded its capacity to 48 decomposition vessels. “We are anticipating a lot of growth,” Seth Viddal, the managing partner at The Natural Funeral, told NBC.

Cremations in Denver usually cost between $3,000 and $5,000 but you’d need to fork out $7,900 (£5,994) should you want The Natural Funeral treatment.

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