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.
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.
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?