Sustainable till death do us part, and 45 days beyond; mushroom coffin a last best wish for some
DELFT, Netherlands (AP) — For those seeking to live in the most sustainable way, there now is an afterlife too.
A Dutch intrepid inventor is now “growing” coffins by putting mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, together with hemp fiber in a special mold that, in a week, turns into what could basically be compared to the looks of an unpainted Egyptian sarcophagus.
And while traditional wooden coffins come from trees that can take decades to grow and years to break down in the soil, the mushroom versions biodegrades and delivers the remains to nature in barely a month and a half.
In our 21st century, when the individual spirit can increasingly thrive way beyond the strictures of yore, death and funerals are all so often still hemmed in by tradition that may fall far short of the vision of the deceased or their loved ones.
“We all have different cultures and different ways of wanting to be buried in the world. But I do think there’s a lot of us, a huge percentage of us, that would like it differently. And it’s been very old school the same way for 50 or 100 years,” said Shawn Harris, a U.S. investor in the Loop Biotech company that produces the coffins.
“Instead of: ‘we die, we end up in the soil and that’s it,’ Now there is a new story : we can enrich life after death and you can continue to thrive as a new plant or tree,” Hendrikx said in an interview. “It brings a new narrative in which we can be part of something bigger than ourselves.”
The coffins cost 995 euros (more than $1,000) each, and the price for an urn is 196.80 euros ($212).
To put nature at the heart of such funerals, Loop Biotech is partnering with Natuurbegraven Nederland — Nature Burials Netherlands — which uses six special habitats were remains can be embedded in protected parks.
Currently, Loop Biotech has a capacity to “grow” 500 coffins or urns a month, and are shipping across Europe. Hendrikx said they have caught on in the Nordics.
“It’s the Northern European countries where there is more consciousness about the environment and also where there’s autumn,” he said. “So they know and understand the mushroom, how it works, how it’s part of the ecosystem.”