In the Spring of 2019, we shared news out of Washington state where lawmakers officially approved an eco-friendly alternative to burial or cremation: human composting. With human composting, human remains are turned into soil, which can then be used to grow trees. This is a much greener option when compared to traditional burials, in which the coffin is made of toxic metals and can take 10 years to break down in the earth.
Human composting, however, isn’t the only green way to deal with the dead. For those who still want to take part in the tradition of burial without all the negative environmental effects, Dutch researcher Bob Hendrikx has created a new coffin made from mushroom mycelium that helps bodies decompose faster while improving the surrounding soil.
Dubbed the Living Cocoon, the coffin actively contributes to the body’s composting process after death and simultaneously removes toxic substances from the earth – creating richer conditions for new plants to grow.
Dezeen reported that the coffin takes one week to grow and then, containing the body of the deceased, takes an estimated two to three years to decompose. According to Hendrikx, the hope is that the “living coffin” can create a closed-loop system for disposing of the dead and repairing some of the damage done by humans to the earth.