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Body composting begins in Colorado, after state legalizes this alternative to burial or cremation

Colorado is the second state in the country to allow human body composting.

LAFAYETTE, Colorado — For the first time in Colorado, a family has chosen to compost their loved one's remains after their death. It’s legal under a new law that went into effect this month, making Colorado the second state in the country to allow human body composting.

After a six-month process of decomposition, the body will eventually turn into soil and can be used to grow anything from trees to flowers.

"That law first went into effect on Sept. 7, and to the best of our knowledge, the first client who selected this disposition was laid into a vessel at our facility yesterday at 10 a.m.," Seth Viddal with The Natural Funeral in Lafayette said Thursday. 

Viddal is one of the owners of The Natural Funeral. They’re the first in the state to offer human body composting as an alternative to traditional funeral options like burial or cremation. 

The process was already legal in Washington before it was allowed in Colorado. 

"We are effectively doing upcycling so that we can reuse our valuable human bodies," Viddal said. "It really is a gentle transformation."

Far from a cemetery, the "vessel" sits inside a nondescript warehouse where the body undergoes a six-month process of natural decomposition.

"The beloved person that we placed there is surrounded by straw and alfalfa and wood chips and a lot of microbial beings, and a natural process of digestion and conversion is occurring where that body is gently becoming soil," Viddal said. "The alfalfa and straw and woodchips have converted and combined with the body to become a soil."

The outcome is soil that can be used to grow plants, trees, and flowers, giving new life. Colorado law does not allow for the soil to be sold or used to grow edible crops. 

Enough soil to fill a pickup truck bed will be produced from one body. Families that choose to compost their loved ones after they die can keep the soil or donate it to farms.

"We’re doing a conversion process that brings our body back to something that the earth can accept and use," Viddal said. "People who are environmentally minded or agriculturally minded are clamoring for an option that respects the earth the way that they do."

In the weeks since the law went into effect, Viddal said he’s gotten dozens of calls from people wanting to sign up for the service upon their death. Right now, they’re the only company offering this service in Colorado and only have one vessel. That will be occupied for at least the next six months.

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