The inventor said humans see their own bodies as waste but they could instead give back to nature after death
A Dutch scientist has invented a coffin made out of mushroom fibres for a more eco-friendly burial.
The coffins, made from the fungus mycelium, are grown over seven days and help bodies decompose under ground more quickly, their inventor claims.
Inventor Bob Hendrikx, founder of the start-up Loop, told The Telegraph: “Humans see ourselves as waste and burn our bodies or put them into the soil with pollutants. But I have a new vision of working with living materials rather than taking something out of nature, killing it to make wood and building a coffin.”
Last Saturday, a Dutchwoman was the first ever person to be laid to rest in the ‘Living Cocoon’.
“Mycelium is the largest organism in the world, the root structure of nature, and it is continually recycling matter into nutrients,” said Mr Hendrikx. “It can generate heat, electricity and is self-healing. With it, we could go into a very polluted area and transform it from landfill to a forest, with a tree planted on top of every body.”
He said that the body decomposed in the Living Cocoon within two to three years, whereas normally it takes ten years or more.
“The mycelium breaks down dead matter and pollution. Cemetery soil is heavily toxic, and this solves that problem too,” he said.
Hendrikx, who studied architecture at Delft University of Technology and now describes himself as a bio-designer, has created 10 coffins and has found a partner whom he says could help upscale production. The cocoons will cost from €1,250 to €1,500 and the first was reportedly used for a burial last week in The Hague.
According to a TU Delft press release, tests in America have shown the coffin itself is absorbed in the earth within 30 to 45 days, and the start-up is working with regional funeral organisations CUVO and De Laatste Eer on further real-life testing.
Anita van Loon, director of the Uitvaartstichting Hilversum cemetery, told The Telegraph that demand for eco-friendly burial has grown exponentially in recent years and she predicts there will be many takers.
“Lots of people ask us for ecologically responsible material and if this product catches on, it would be fantastic,” she said.
“More and more people want natural funerals, using cardboard clothing and coffins, taking off their necklaces and spectacles to give their bodies back to nature. This really fits within a movement to be part of a cleaner, better society.”
We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.
Coffin, Burial, Mushroom, Cadaver, Mycelium
World news – GB – Dutch inventor makes ‘mushroom’ coffin for eco-friendly burials