Many of us make small choices in our lives to help the environment. Now you can do your part even in death — with a casket made of mushrooms.
A company in the Netherlands, Loop, developed the biodegradable coffin using mycelium, the underground structure of mushrooms. (Think of it like a plant’s root system.) The first person to use the “Living Cocoon” died in 2020, and the company is still selling the caskets today.
“It was a moving moment, we discussed the cycle of life,” said Loop founder Bob Hendrikx, of a conversation with the deceased’s son, in the Guardian in 2020. ”He had lost his mother, but he was happy because thanks to this box, she will return to nature and will soon be living like a tree.”
According to Loop, the mycelium material breaks down in 45 days, unlike traditional wood or metal caskets. The body within then decomposes over the course of a few years, helped along by the cocoon’s natural processes.
Hendrikx’s feeling is that humans have become disconnected from Earth’s natural cycle. Modern methods of burial disturb the environment, from embalming chemicals that eventually leach into the ground to air pollution from crematoria.
The biodegradable cocoon is meant to bring people back to Earth, literally. it even arrives with a soft carpet of moss growing inside the casket.
“The Living Cocoon not only breaks itself down in 45 days, it also hosts bacteria and microorganisms that neutralize toxins in both the body and surrounding soil, enabling people to enrich and clean the soil with their own nutrients,” reads Loop’s vision statement.
This is all sounding pretty good! And the price is right, too: just about $1,569 (1,495 Euros).
The bad news: The cocoon is currently only available for on-demand delivery within Europe. Elsewhere, potential customers can purchase a voucher for a cocoon, to be redeemed when it’s needed; shipping costs are not included in the price. The company hopes to eventually set up plants to make the products available overseas.
In the U.S., though, some states are letting people choose “human composting” as alternative to cremation or burial.
Something to think about! Being a tree sounds rather nice, to be honest.