What a deceased person wears is often one of the most important aspects of burial, especially if it’s an open-casket funeral. There’s something ritualistic about choosing the last garments a human being will ever present themselves to the world in. Is it a favorite suit or dress, does it include a piece of jewellery or a special pair of shoes? But again – you’re dead, does it really matter? In the afterlife, if there is one, you are probably either wearing your ideal outfit, the same spacesuit that everyone else on the alien ship is wearing, or nothing at all. So why dress up a corpse?
One option is to be buried in a biodegradable shroud. Your naked corpse is wrapped in the shroud and then buried in the earth at one of the increasingly popular “natural burial grounds.” Here’s a list; apparently the cemetery that I like to take my kids to is one of them…I will definitely look at the lumpy earth in a different way now. In a natural burial, your un-embalmed corpse is left to rot at it’s natural rate and degrade completely into the soil. You are sometimes encased in a casket, but nothing fancy, something that will break down quickly and let nature in. The biodegradable shroud is the most unobtrusive way to re-enter the earth, save just dumping your naked body into the soil. One company in the UK, Bellacouche, has expanded their felting business to include felted wool “cocoons” called the Leafcocoon and the Leafpod. The Leafpod is the basic version, a handmade felted wool “pod” that encases your corpse with some leaves around the edges as decoration. It is a basic shroud with some wood handles, and it sells for £650. The Leafcocoon is the fancier version, coming with a wood board and extra covers, with the topmost having the option for more elaborate leaf decorations, and goes for between £785 and £885.
But there is a lot of talk about the chemicals and heavy metals we’ve built up in our bodies over the course of our lifetime being leached into the soil, causing further environmental damage even after we’re finished driving our cars and creating massive amounts of waste. So one company, Coeio, has come up with the Infinity Burial Suit, a suit laced with the spores of the specially-bred Infinity Mushrooms. The inventors behind Coeio, Jae Rhim Lee and Mike Ma, are training the Infinity Mushrooms to eat human cells in the form of hair, skin, flesh, urine, feces, blood and every other gross bit of us. The mushrooms and other microorganisms embedded in the suit feed off the corpse and “neutralize” its toxins, turning it into some really nice arable soil. It’s basically a human composter. The suits are getting ready to enter the retail market in late 2016 and are up for pre-order now, only $999 a pop. Which, when you consider the price of a casket being anywhere from $2000 to $10,000 or more, is a pretty good deal. There’s also a pet version, which you could probably just put in your back yard somewhere.
What would be really nice is to be buried in one of these mushroom suits and then dug up and bagged into top-quality soil. My kids can pick it up and use me in their vegetable gardens. Then at harvest time, I guess they will eat me. Maybe that wouldn’t be so cool after all…