- Dutch inventor comes up with a mushroom coffin to turn bodies into compost
- The inventor has named the coffin “Living Cocoon”
- Last Saturday the mushroom coffin was used for the first time
In the Netherlands, a person can now keep helping the planet even after the death by opting for a living coffin made out of mushrooms that helps in speeding up the decomposition of the body.
The coffin turns the corpses into compost which enriches the soil thanks to mycelium, the root structure of fungi.
The mushroom coffin is named “Living Cocoon” and is a world first, according to Bob Hendrikx, who invented the idea in his student laboratory at the Delft Technical University, Delft, Netherlands.
“This is the world’s first living coffin, and actually last Saturday the first human being in the Netherlands was composted and returned into the cycle of life,” Hendrikx told a leading news agency.
The “Living Cocoon” was the final resting place for an 82 year old woman whose body will be decomposed in 2 to 3 years. In a traditional coffin with varnished wood and metal handles, the same process of body decomposition could take as much as over 10 years.
Interestingly, the mushroom casket, itself, will disappear in 30 to 45 days.
Hendrikx said, “It’s actually an organism, so it’s made from mycelium which is the root structure of mushrooms,” and added, “They’re the biggest recyclers in nature”.
“This is the most natural way to do it… we no longer pollute the environment with toxins in our body and all the stuff that goes into the coffins but actually try to enrich it and really be compost for nature.”
The coffin has the same dimensions and shape as a typical coffin but the pale colour is from the mycelium. Inside the mushroom coffin is a bed of moss where the body along with various insects and other soil creatures will lie.
Overall the coffin is much lighter than the typical wooden casket and it is cheaper as well, current market price for this mushroom coffin is around Euro 1,500 or around Rs 1,30,000.
Building these coffins is not easy as it needs foraging, first for moss from the forest, then collecting mycelium from mushrooms, and after that comes mixing that with woodchips.
Hendrikx said, “Slowly in seven days, it’s actually pretty fast, it will grow into a solid material that is actually an organism,”.
“Afterwards it’s naturally dried by literally removing the mould and just letting it be. So then the mycelium, the organism, becomes inactive.
“When it’s in the ground, it starts to get activated again when a lot of moisture hits the organism. Then it starts the decomposition process.”
It was reported that Hendrikx’s inspiration didn’t stem from a ghoulish fascination with bodies or human compost but from serendipity. Fascinated by the applications of mushrooms, he first tried to make a “living house” for his thesis.
“However, when someone asked what would happen with the body of his grandmother if he left her inside the house, Hendrikx had a brainwave. That has now become a start-up, called Loop, which has signed a deal with a funeral home, while also causing a stir on social media,” said a news report. “Looking at the reactions we had online, we’re pretty sure it’s going to be a big hit,” he said.