Sustainability might be the last thought on your mind when a loved one dies, but one entrepreneur believes that everyone can be eco-friendly in life and in death. A remarkable mushroom suit is available to be worn by the deceased during their burial, and it offers a way to limit the environmental impact of traditional funerals.
The impact of conventional funeral practices is little known and rarely discussed. Coffins require the harvesting and chemical treatment of wood, including toxic varnishes. Dead bodies are almost always pumped full of formaldehyde, which is a highly poisonous embalming chemical that is released into the environment. Cremation is another option, but it is not without its own negative impact. The cremation process is highly energy-intensive and requires sustained temperatures of up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The “Infinity Burial Suit” weaves mushroom spores into the suit’s threads so that mushrooms grow on the body and swiftly decompose it by feeding off the nutrients. Mushrooms are beneficial decomposers and help to neutralize soil by digesting and filtering contaminants such as pesticides or heavy metals.
The suit has been for sale since 2016 on the company’s website. It costs $1,500 USD and is available in both black and natural colors and in three sizes. The team behind the suit also offers alternative burial options for pets.
Other companies have attempted to address this environmental issue with the release of a burial pod that grows into a tree and the opening of funeral buildings for communal decomposition. Like the mushroom suit, these ideas have received a lot of controversy.
According to Jae Rhim Lee, the owner of the mushroom suit company, society needs to shift how we think about death in general, and the mushroom suit is an important step.
“For every person who uses the Infinity Burial Suit, there will be many more who witness the choice to return to the earth and to use one’s body in a beneficial way,” Lee said. “Cumulatively, this will help create a cultural shift toward a cultural acceptance of death and our personal responsibility for environmental sustainability.”
Images via Coeio