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Natural Causes: Why Some Are Choosing An Eco-Friendly End Of Life

Embalmer and funeral director Kristy Oliver (R) and funeral attendant Sam Deras load the casket of a person who died after contracting COVID-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary in El Cajon, California.
Embalmer and funeral director Kristy Oliver (R) and funeral attendant Sam Deras load the casket of a person who died after contracting COVID-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary in El Cajon, California.

In December, a funeral home in Washington became the first to legally compost human remains. It’s part of a growing movement toward deathcare options that are kinder to the planet, from aqua cremation to tree pod burials.

Proponents of these kinds of options say that they use less energy and are better for the environment than the traditional methods of cremation or embalming. Public testimony for a bill concerning human composting in Oregon was overwhelmingly positive.

As a part of our coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, we talked about a nation grieving at home.

What are the eco-friendly end-of-life options available to the public now? And what do they mean for the funeral business in general?

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