DENVER (KDVR) — Death isn’t something that most people like to talk about, but statistically, there is a 100% chance that it will happen to everyone at some point.
While most people in the state choose traditional burial or cremation, Colorado does have some alternatives that many other states do not have.
Colorado was the second state to legalize human composting, also known as natural reduction, in 2021. As of 2023, seven states — Washington, Colorado, Oregon, California, Vermont, New York and Nevada — have legalized the practice.
As the name suggests, the practice involves turning human remains into soil.
According to the Natural Funeral, which was the first funeral home in the state to offer the service, it takes around four to six months, and afterward, there is around one cubic yard of fertile soil remaining.
It is illegal to sell the soil, and the Natural Funeral recommended that the soil not be used to grow food for human consumption.
Alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation, is a process that uses alkaline chemicals, heat, agitation and pressure to speed up the natural breakdown of human remains.
It has been seen as a gentler and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional cremation or burial.
It is legal in 28 states, including Colorado.
Colorado is home to the only legal open-air cremation sites in the country.
One, in Crestone, is only open to residents of Saguache County. It is part of the nonprofit Crestone End of Life Project, which provides residents of the county with end-of-life choices, according to its website.
The process in Crestone involves a pyre, a pile of wood, a wooden stretcher and a shroud, according to the organization’s website.