Washington has become the first state in the nation to allow composting as an alternative to burial or cremation of humans remains.

Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill legalizing human composting, which will go into effect May of next year.

The process of composting involves the body being covered in natural materials, like straw and wood chips, and over the course of three to seven weeks and due to microbial activity, the body breaks down into soil.

Currently, in Washington, bodies can either be buried or cremated. The process of composting provides a third option that will accelerate the conversion of human remains into soil, and it’s environmentally friendly.

“It’s about time we apply some technology, allow some technology to be applied to this universal human experience … because we think that people should have the freedom to determine for themselves how they’d like their body to be disposed of,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Jamie Pedersen.

The average cost of burial can cost between $8,000 and $25,000. Human composting can charge about $5,500 alleged Katrina Spade, CEO of the human composting company, Recompose.

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