Earth Funeral announces Oregon expansion

Earth Funeral, which calls itself a “soil transformation provider” announced earlier this month in this press release that they will be expanding services to the state of Oregon.  According to the press release, Oregon began allowing soil transformation (Natural Organic Reduction or NOR) on July 1, 2022.  That makes Oregon the 3rd state, joining Washington and Colorado, as a legal location for what some refer to as “human composting” as a method of human disposition.  I should note that Vermont bill H244 was passed and signed into law in Vermont on June 2, 2022, which will allow for NOR in Vermont beginning on June 1, 2023.

According to Earth CEO and co-founder Tom Harries, “Earth is a compassionate, caring team looking after families at one of the toughest times of their lives, and we are honored to offer Oregonians a sustainable alternative to cremation or burial.”

Oregon state representative Pam Marsh who helped move the bill through the state legislature made this comment, “”I’m thrilled that, just as Oregon’s natural organic reduction law goes into effect, we’re already seeing the industry expand to offer Oregonians a safe, scientifically validated and sustainable death care choice.  It’s important for people to have options that align with their values, and many of us are looking for environmentally friendly alternatives.”

In the press release Earth Funeral makes the claim that “The fossil-fuel driven process of cremation emits 535 pounds of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to a 600 mile car trip. Last year, Oregon reported 31,972 cremations, which equates to the release of more than 17 million pounds of carbon dioxide.”

The Earth Funeral process of “soil transformation” allows families to determine how much of the “soil” they would like returned to them with the remaining soil sent to Pacific Northwest conservation land for restoration projects, including reforestation and restoring soil health.

Here is the Earth Funeral website

Here is a short video about Earth Funeral

Related article“Human composting” could soon become legal in New York.  Spectrum News 1 (NY)

Funeral Director Daily take:  There is no doubt that the American consumer wants choice in everything they purchase.  And, there is nothing wrong with that. . . . there’s Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi and Gatorade vs. Powerade as well as choices of totally different things such as hot drinks vs. cold drinks.

I think the niches in human disposition that are coming along is just a function of that reality.  When it comes to cremation we now have flame cremation vs. water cremation (alkaline hydrolysis) and when it comes to burial we now have traditional casketed burials vs. green burials.  It’s no surprise that we will begin using other niches like natural organic reduction as we move forward.

Different choices will appeal to different people and there certainly seems to be a trend moving towards new environmentally friendly options.  That trend will continue to favor options such as green burial and natural organic reduction.  The question will be if environmentally friendly options become mainstream or stay niche in the death care profession.  Traditional funeral homes need to be closely monitoring that movement.

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