Too many of us are familiar with the emotional and physical havoc caused by the death of a loved one. In contrast, a much smaller percentage of us would be familiar with the environmental impact of a traditional burial. This guide uncovers the main environmental concerns associated with a traditional burial and highlights the benefits of selecting a green burial and in particular, the mushroom suits as a means of farewelling someone close to us.
The environmental impact of traditional burial vs. cremation
If you or someone dear to you wishes to leave minimal impact on this earth when you die, a traditional burial is probably not for you. Traditional funerals typically involve the use of embalming fluids. These fluids act to preserve bodies and subsequently slow down the degradation process. As the body breaks down, the embalming fluids leach into the soil and waterways. The caskets and coffins used for traditional burials can also be problematic. They are usually coated with toxic paints and lacquers which also leach into the earth as they decay. The toxins then remain in the soil, negatively impacting the area around the burial plot.
Cremation is less harmful to the environment, however a great deal of fuel is required to run a crematorium. With each cremation, harmful gases like carbon monoxide are released into the air, as well as soot. Mercury can also be released into the air if the deceased had old fashioned dental fillings.
Coeio Infinity Burial Suit
Keeping the environment clean and green is on the agenda everywhere, so it should come as no surprise that the green burial industry is booming. These days there are many companies developing products or processes to reduce the impact of death on the environment.
One such person is Jae Rhim Lee, an artist and designer who combined her three loves, namely science, art and fashion, to develop the Coeio Infinity Burial Suit. This suit is one of the most revolutionary and remarkable products to reach the market in recent times.
The suit, also commonly referred to as the mushroom burial suit, is made out of organic cotton, seeded with mushroom spores. According to Coeio, the mushroom spores help to decompose our post mortem bodies whilst at the same time cleaning the toxins from our bodies before they leach out into the soil.
How much is a mushroom burial suit?
In addition to creating far less pollution and damage to the environment compared with traditional burials, these shrouds are considerably less expensive than a typical casket or coffin. Whereas a typical coffin can cost anywhere from $1000 to $15,000, a mushroom burial suit retails for approximately $1,500 (US).
How is the mushroom burial suit used?
In order to use the suit, a cemetery will need to offer green burial plots. The deceased's body would then be shrouded by the Infinity Burial Suit and laid to rest directly in the grave. A biodegradable casket can be used in combination with the mushroom suit, but is not necessary. If a biodegradable coffin is used, the spores can help to break down the fibres and speed up the overall decomposition time.
Are mushroom burial suits available in Australia?
That’s a good question. In 2019, Coeio, the company behind the Infinity Burial Suit garnered a considerable amount of press after it was revealed that American TV star Luke Perry was buried in one. However, the company’s website seems to have been taken down and they haven’t been active on twitter since late 2019. All signs point to this being a great idea, but one that’s unfortunately no longer available.
More and more people are looking at how they can live more sustainably. So, it makes sense that they are looking at how they can lessen the environmental impact of their death too. Although the mushroom burial suit seems to no longer be available, the invention helps us to reimagine the way people might deal with this one part of death.
If you are planning your estate and getting your affairs in order, perhaps now is the time to consider how you would like to be farewelled. This is where the team at Willed can help. To speak with one of our dedicated funeral arrangers, go to willed.com.au or call us on 1300 645 533.