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We’re dying to try composting ... with humans, that is

We here at LOTME are not really fans of politicians, except as objects of ridicule. That is kind of fun. Whether we’re watching Fox News, listening to NPR, or reading Vladimir Putin’s fashion blog, one thing remains clear: If you want actual information, don’t ask a politician.


There are, of course, always exceptions, and we just found one: California state representative Cristina Garcia. Rep. Garcia sponsored a bill just signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom that legalizes the practice of human composting, the reduction of remains by “placing bodies in individual vessels and fostering gentle transformation into a nutrient-dense soil.”

Since we’ve written about this sort of thing before – Washington was the first state to legalize the process back in 2019 – we’re more interested now in what Rep. Garcia told NBC News while describing her motivation: “I’ve always wanted to be a tree. The idea of having my family sitting under my shade one day – that brings a lot of joy.” How great is that? Tree-hugging is just not enough. Be the tree.

California is the fifth state to provide its residents with the human composting option, the other three being Colorado, Oregon, and Vermont. The process “typically involves putting a body into a steel vessel, then covering it with organic materials like straw, wood chips and alfalfa. Microbes break down the corpse and the plant matter, transforming the various components into nutrient-rich soil in roughly 30 days,” Smithsonian Magazine explained.

We just happen to have some good news for Rep. Garcia about that wanting-to-be-a-tree business. She’s already pretty close. For more on that, we go to our correspondent from beyond the grave, Carl Sagan, who shares a thought about trees. And no, we couldn’t just write out his quote here. You have to hear it in Dr. Sagan’s own voice.

That’ll be one pandemic with extra distress. Hold the goals

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit it put a lot of stuff on hold for everyone. Couldn’t eat inside at your favorite restaurant, attend that long-awaited concert, or travel out of the country. Those were all pretty bad, but it was the disruption of pursuing long-term goals that seemed to have the most effect on people’s mental health.

Getting a temperature test xijian/Getty Images

Investigators from the University of Waterloo (Ont.) looked at how putting such goals on hold affected people’s mental well-being. The study’s 226 participants were asked about their “COVID-frozen” goals and the degree to which they were able to actively pursue each goal and how committed they were to achieving it.

What they found was that the participants’ COVID-frozen goals were associated with feelings of psychological distress, such as anxiety, depressive symptoms, stress, and lowered life satisfaction. It was only when participants were able to disengage from goal rumination that well-being was impacted positively.

“Goal rumination is compulsive and can aggravate worries and frustrations while also taking away mental resources from other goals,” Candice Hubley, lead author and a PhD candidate in psychology, said in a written statement. So in short, you’re only stressing yourself out more about something that is far off in the distance when you could be focusing more on short-term, tangible goals instead.

Now, no one is saying to give up on your goals. Just take them one at a time. You’ll have better life satisfaction and your COVID-frozen goals will thaw out before you know it.


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