LOS ANGELES -- Starting in 2027, a different burial method will be available for Californians after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that allows human composting.
AB 351, introduced by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), allows for the method in which human remains naturally decompose over a 30-to-45-day period and are turned into a soil. That human-composted soil can then be returned to the deceased's family or donated to conservation land.
Supporters say it's an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional end-of-life options.
California will join four other states in the country - Washington, Colorado, Oregon and Vermont - in allowing human composting.
"For me this is personal. I'm a caretaker. I've had to have these discussions with my family members about end-of-life and their wishes and their desires," Garcia said.
Garcia said even though traditional end-of-life options like burials and cremation exist, Californians will soon be able to consider human composting.
"I'm excited that we're doing something that for some individuals it's about that experience they want to share with loved ones once they pass away," Garcia said.
She said the new alternative is a respectful, cheaper and environmentally friendly way for humans to be returned back to Earth as soil.
"When we have a coffin and we put that into the ground, there's a lot of chemicals that get leaked into the ground and often times it ends up in our water," Garcia said. "When we do cremation there's a lot of carbon emissions."
Micah Truman, CEO of Return Home in Washington, said human composting is an eco-friendly option.
"One cremation takes about 30 gallons of fuel to complete and blows 530 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere," Truman said.
He said human remains are placed in a vessel where the body is transformed into soil in 60 days.
"When it's done we have soil that we give back to the family. The family can put it anywhere they want. The rules are identical to that of cremated remains," Truman said.
Groups like California Catholic Conference are against human composting because of the lack of dignity toward the human body.
Truman said this option is growing in popularity and gives people a chance to restart the cycle of life.
"What we do when we die is the last thing that happens on this planet, and it's really important that our last act on this planet is one that gives back to it," he said.