Caitlin Doughty | Human Composting Should Be an Option for New Yorkers – The New York Times

By Caitlin Doughty

Graphics by Taylor Maggiacomo

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician and the author of three books on death and the funeral industry. She founded the Order of the Good Death, a nonprofit that promotes end-of-life alternatives.

“Eight years ago, panting heavily in the humid summer air, I carried a pair of orange work buckets full of wood chips up a leafy hill in rural North Carolina. Although these were ordinary wood chips, the pilot study I’d come to observe was planning to put them to an extraordinary use: composting a dead human being into soil.

The deceased gentleman I saw that day, lying on the forest floor in dappled sunlight, had donated his body to science in order to be useful to society after death. Now that gift and the study, by the Forensic Osteology Research Station of Western Carolina University, have borne fruit. With human composting technology, our dead have the chance to become nutrient-rich soil that can be used to plant trees and regrow forests.

As of today, five states — Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado and, most recently, California — have either legalized or set a date for legalizing human composting as a means of disposition after death. In New York, one such bill has passed the Assembly and Senate. It now awaits Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature.”

David Lindsay: This gets me really excited about dying, just not till human composting is legal in Connecticut.

Review: ‘All the Living and the Dead,’ by Hayley Campbell – The New York Times


ALL THE LIVING AND THE DEAD: From Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life’s Work, by Hayley Campbell

“Conceptually, death is mere tragedy. But in reality, it also comes with a particular pain many people are unequipped for: the scourge of logistics and bureaucracy. There are documents to fill, possessions to ship, professionals to hire, ceremonies to organize. Many of us prefer not to think about the mundane details of death, and entire industries exist to help people in avoiding those procedural needs, waiting out of sight until called upon, then springing into action to help protect the living from encountering the dead.

“By living in this manufactured state of denial, in the borderlands between innocence and ignorance, are we nurturing a fear that reality doesn’t warrant?” Hayley Campbell asks in her new book, “All the Living and the Dead.” “I wanted unromantic, unpoetic, unsanitized visions of death. I wanted the naked, banal reality of this thing that will come to us all.” “