LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Losing a loved one is never easy. At Heritage Mortuary in the north valley, funeral director Larnique Mickens said it’s all about supporting families.
“We love to ensure that families are taken care of from the time of the passing of their loves one up to the aftercare and even after that,” said Mickens
As a funeral director, Mickens said it’s their responsibility to educate families on all the available options for families when it comes to cremation, burial and even the possibility of human composting.
“It may be their wish that they return back to Mother Nature and a lot of people are conscious about the environment,” Mickens explained. “This is one way to stay eco-friendly.”
Nevada Assembly Bill 289 would authorize the use of natural organic reduction of human remains.
“Body composting actually has a beneficial environmental impact, it allows us to sequester carbon and do a benefit to the Earth as a last act for our body,” Seth Viddal, the CEO of the Natural Funeral in Colorado said.
Colorado legalized human compositing in 2021. He has served over 50 families with this option, and about 15 of those families traveled from other states.
“It’s where we place the body in a vessel, in our case we call it a chrysalis vessel and it was designed in house and it’s about the same dimensions as what we would use for a grave for a green burial, which means it’s about 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep and 7 feet long,” Viddal added.
In the vessel, the body is surrounded by wood chips and straw. Then eventually the body is broken down by microbes and converted into soil.
“At the end of generally about 4 months, we’re able to offer back to the family this soil that they can take and place in their yard or on their rose bushes,” Viddal said.
Viddal said some families also choose to donate the soil, which can go back to flower farms
If the bill passes, Mickens said she would offer human composting as an option. She encourages the community to keep an open mind as this could also alleviate the need to open up plots as more cemeteries become crowded. Both Viddal and Mickens understand the pushback due to religious or cultural reasons.
I think it’s an excellent time for us to be aware of what is out there and not come to a point where our environment is in trouble and we’re forced to do this method,” Mickens said. “I know that this has some people in an uproar because it’s not considered a dignified way of burial but at this point, we just need to make sure that each and every person shares their life and honor it with how they want to honor it.”
According to Viddal, the average cost for conventional burial is around $8,500, and human composting costs a bit less than that. The average cost at the Natural Funeral is about $7,900 including transportation, paperwork and permitting, and biological conversion into the soil.
“This option is not for everyone, and this is just being offered to consumers as a choice in the matter and in our funeral home,” Viddal said. “We support people with conventional and green burials as well as traditional kinds of cremation.”
Mickens will be meeting in May with other members of the National Funeral Association to discuss the future of the funeral industry and human composting will be part of this discussion.
You can follow the bill by clicking here.