Dutch inventor Bob Hendrikx wants the power of fungi (as mycelium) to be used as an alternative to traditional wooden coffins. Its friendly “living coffin” is not only carbon negative to grow, but decomposes in six weeks, rather than the 20 years it can take for a regular wooden coffin. Expert input indicate a corpse will fully decompose in two to three years. Hendrikx’s company Loop is not the first to try this. when actor Luke Perry died in 2019 he was buried in a “mushroom suit” designed to help decompose his body. Why we need a such alternative ? In fact, some funeral practices are bad for the environment. In the US alone over 4 million gallons of embalming fluid are used every year for burials. Embalming fluid contains toxic ingredients such as formaldehyde, which can leach into the ground.
“What really frustrates me is that when I die, I’m polluting the Earth. I’m waste,” says Hendrikx. As he explained, given the right treatment, the body becomes “a beautiful bag of compost.” Loop’s “Living Cocoon” is comprised of lab-cultivated mycelium, woodchips and secret ingredients, placed in a mold and grown into a coffin shape over the course of a week. The company has partnered with biomaterials pioneers Ecovative to test the product. The coffin has already been used for funerals in multiple European countries. The coffin, which is manufactured in Delft, is on sale for €1,495 ($1,700). Joerg Vieweg, an owner of funeral homes in Germany, appreciated that „burial in a mycelium coffin maybe socially acceptable.”