North Country funeral homes react to NYS greenlighting organic reduction

Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 5:00 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - New York is going green once again. A new law signed Friday by Governor Kathy Hochul officially makes organic reduction, otherwise known as human composting, legal in the Empire State.

“It gives people another option. You know basically we had two before, and this is going to give people a third,” said Jason Harrington, Funeral Home Director of Reed & Benoit Funeral Home.

New York becomes the sixth state in the country to legalize the process, and just the second on the east coast with Vermont doing so in 2022.

“I think the push to do this is more attractive, because it is a little bit more eco-friendly, and green,” said Harrington.

The deceased body is placed into a reusable vessel along with other plant materials. The organic mix creates a habitat for natural decay which takes about a month’s time. The process results in what would be 36 bags of soil to be used for planting. Though some believe the eco-friendly aspect will attract a new group of consumers, others think that going green may cost you more green in doing so.

“Green burial is not less expensive than tradition funerals or cremation. The components that make it up make it more expensive, so I would imagine that this would be the same way,” said Francee Calarco, Funeral Home Director of D.L. Calarco Funeral Home.

Costs are not the only concern for some funeral directors in the north country.

“We’ve always treated bodies and human remains as very reverent. So to have something that seems less respectful, not that it would be, but maybe it just seems that way, would be a difficult step to get over,” said Calarco.

Currently, the number of cemeteries that offer human composting, or other forms of green-burial, are few and far between.

Cemeteries must be certified to be an organic reduction facility to offer this process.