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Kathy Hochul giving an address at the State Capitol building, August 11, 2021.lev radin/Shutterstock

ALBANY, New York (LifeSiteNews) – New York has become the sixth state to legalize human “composting” after the state’s Democrat Governor, Kathy Hochul, signed legislation to that effect Saturday. 

The legislation passed both houses of the New York legislature in June and according to Democrat Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Winchester, who sponsored the legislation, was “needed” as “New Yorkers grow more environmentally conscious” and begin “seeking an alternative to cremation which uses fossil fuels and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, or traditional burials which use up open land and contribute to soil and groundwater pollution.”  

Paulin introduced the legislation with New York Democrat state Senator Leroy Comrie in an effort to meet a policy goal of eliminating carbon emissions by 2050, the Epoch Times reported 

The process of human composting, also known by the euphemism Natural Organic Reduction (NOR),” entails placing the deceased into a sealed reusable vessel padded with biodegradable materials such as woodchips, alfalfa, and straw.

The body remains in the vessel at an above ground special facility for 30 days to decompose, after which point the resulting compost and bones are left to cure from two to six weeks after being ground, yielding about a cubic yard of “soil.”

The resulting “soil” could then be used for gardens, forests, be disbursed, or used for conservation efforts. 

Katrina Spade, founder of Recompose, a Washington-based funeral home that offers NOR, told the Associated Press that “Cremation uses fossil fuels and burial uses a lot of land and has a carbon footprint … For a lot of folks being turned into soil that can be turned to grow into a garden or tree is pretty impactful.” 

The new law, however, has faced criticism from New York Catholics.

Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, a group that represents the state’s bishops and has long opposed NOR, told the Associated Press that the practice is an “inappropriate” burial method.  

“A process that is perfectly appropriate for returning vegetable trimmings to the earth is not necessarily appropriate for human bodies,” Poust told the outlet in a statement. 

“Human bodies are not household waste, and we do not believe that the process meets the standard of reverent treatment of our earthly remains.” 

Last year, Poust sent a letter to Hochul, a self-professed Catholic, detailing his criticisms of the measure, saying “throughout history and in every culture, the disposition of human remains has been treated with care and following particular rituals, always involving interment or cremation.” 

“Given this fact, it is inappropriate to suddenly introduce a completely different method, with no input from the public, religious communities, or anyone else outside of the state Capitol,” he continued. 

NOR measures have been similarly criticized by other Catholic organizations.  

When California legalized NOR in September last year, Kathleen Domingo, head of California’s Catholic Conference, told SFGATE that the practice “reduces the human body to simply a disposable commodity,” and suggested that spreading composted remains of human beings over trafficked areas “risks people treading over human remains without their knowledge.” In addition, she argued that “repeated dispersions in the same area are tantamount to a mass grave.” 

Peter Marlow, executive director of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, told the outlet that San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone also opposes the California law authorizing NOR. 

Likewise, when Colorado legalized NOR in 2021, the Colorado Catholic Conference said that it could not support the process, arguing that the Catholic Church “teaches that the human body is sacred and the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral society.” 

In 2019, Washington became the first state to legalize NOR. The state was followed by Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and California, with California’s implementation of it’s NOR law delayed to January 2027.