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The Mushroom Death Suit is Ready to Consume Your Body

We have seen the future of funerals and it is fungus. The makers of the Mushroom Death Suit say their eco-friendly burial garment is ready to consume its first human body. Oh, and they’d prefer if you called it the Infinity Burial Suit.

The suit is the brainchild of Jae Rhim Lee and Mike Ma, who became friends at Stanford University and are the co-founders of Coeio, the company that will make and sell the product. They came up with the idea for the suit after Ma attended some family funerals and Lee began thinking about the 200 or more toxins in the human body – both when living and especially after embalming – that eventually end up in the earth.

Mushrooms and their death suit

Mushrooms and their death suit

Lee’s idea was to have the body be “eaten” or aided in decomposition by mushrooms that would also remove the toxins and render them harmless. She tested her idea by feeding her own hair, fingernails and dead skin to various mushrooms and chose the ones that seemed to enjoy this unusual buffet. Spores were taken from the best eaters and placed in threads that were then woven into a shroud that became the Mushroom Death Suit.

At a TED talk in 2011, Lee described how the recently-deceased would be placed in the Mushroom Death Suit, covered with an Alternative Embalming Fluid (slurry of spores) and some Decompiculture Makeup (dried spores) and buried within 24 hours of death. The spores would be activated by the decomposition and begin to dine, thus removing pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins from the body.

Jae Rhim Lee giving her TED talk in full Mushroom Death Suit (mushrooms not included)

Jae Rhim Lee giving her TED talk in full Mushroom Death Suit (mushrooms not included)

Even those advanced thinkers and eco-friendly people who attend TED talks were completely grossed out, so Coeio waited until 2016 when it seems the public is more ready for a fungus-assisted eco-burial. Changing the name to Infinity Burial Suit didn’t hurt either.

Coeio (from the Latin word coeo, which means “come together” – the body comes together with the earth) has its first customer. Dennis White is 63 and suffers from a neurodegenerative disease called Primary Progressive Aphasia. The company says it has a waiting list in the hundreds and offers assistance on its web site to help deal with local laws and long-held customs involving funerals and burials. For those who are interested, there’s also a pod for pets.

What about you? When you go, would you consider going green?

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  • mph23

    I like the idea. Burial practices in the US bother me. Cemeteries waste land. Embalming is disgusting and toxic. Mythology/religion/tradition about death is medieval and silly, IMO.

    Cremation seems ok, but also probably isn’t exactly ‘good’ for the environment either.

    The fact that it’s technically illegal to just rot and/or succumb to natural predation in most places is deplorable.

  • Doc

    Mycoremediation. Most rural areas have allowances for home burial as long as the water table is not compromised. Mycelium – the main mushroom organism – grows beneath the ground and is a moderate depth organism, generally in the top several feet of the soil profile. this suit would work quite well at a depth of about four feet or so in most parts of the US. That’s not enough soil to mitigate the odors of decomposition in all soil cases, but if that is not an issue, this is a great ecologically sound way of remediating the physical remains. I coincidentally had a discussion about just this sort of thing within the last day. I suggested that where I live (rural Michigan), township burial statutes would not be an encumbrance to shallow non-embalmed burial but coyotes, foxes, and other canids likely would be. That could be resolved by laying and staking an 8′ by 6′ piece of chain-link fencing over the burial site for a year or so, or possibly a bit longer

  • Doc

    Not necessarily ‘most’ places. Some places have repressive statutes, typically at the behest of the burial industry, but not most. Limitations have changed much over the last several decades. Most places require burial or enclosure in a vault if aboveground, but many no longer require enbalming or encapsulation if otherwise covered. It does make most sense to just allow surface factors to decompose the remains but the “icky factor” still holds sway. Having investigated Tibetan sky-burials I must admit that there is an understandable aversion to open air decomposition at the hands of all agents. It’s not a pretty sight, even if it is ecologically sound, and community standards are reasonable if the community is at issue.

  • bolero

    Overall I agree with you—but they do need to somewhat monitor where bodies are buried so we don’t have plagues and the like occurring again. But I see absolutely no issue with being allowed to rot normally—and the fact that it’s required to have a concrete vault in most cemeteries now seems suspect. You’re being buried 6 feet and the water table in most areas is much deeper (in places that it’s not you can’t really put a cemetery). I guess they require allocation of land so they’re not finding random leg bones out in a forest and wondering if the person was murdered. Which is a thing. Old cemeteries sometimes surface and are investigated. I was thinking the Body Farm would be a good place for me—but this is also cool. I hope they start making forests out of these in areas that aren’t having droughts all the time (Californians don’t need more trees—and they’re the most likely to latch on to this idea).

  • andreja

    Are those mushrooms eatable? If they are, they can feed a lot of people 🙂

  • William Alderman

    I have been into organic dispositions for years. We were sold on impaling and metal caskets,cement vaults for years. If we would do organic dispositions,we would not have what happened in Chicago some years back.

  • William Alderman

    Of course in order to properly do a full inside and out disposition, the mushrooms should be placed inside and out the body as well. As to disperse tissue gas build up.