A living coffin made of mycelium
The Dutch start-up Loop, a spinoff of Delft University of Technology, developed a living coffin made from mycelium called The Living Cocoon, which helps a body compost more efficiently, thus making dying more sustainable.
It may sound counterintuitive, but dying is hardly a sustainable practice. Or at least, a funeral isn’t. A burial emits 95 kilograms CO2, including transport, and cremation is even worse, emitting 208 kilograms of CO2.
Most coffins are made of (engineered) wood, which takes about a decade to decompose, excluding the metal parts and synthetic clothing that take even longer. The Living Cocoon, on the other hand, is made of mycelium, the root system of mushrooms. This living substance is constantly looking for waste materials to convert into nutrients for the environment, including toxic substances like oil, plastic and metal. The living coffin is grown with only local materials, in just 7 days and without the use of electricity or artificial light.
The inside of the coffin is filled with a soft bed of moss, which also contributes to the composting process. Loop expects that their coffin will complete the entire compositing process in two to three years because it actively contributes to the composting process. The waste products from the body are converted into nutrients, simultaneously improving the surrounding soil.
Practical tests conducted by Ecovative in the US have shown that the coffin is actually absorbed by nature within 30 to 45 days, under normal Dutch conditions. Loop also collaborated with Dutch funeral cooperatives CUVO (The Hague) and De Laatste Eer (Delft). The first of the initial batch of ten Living Cocoons was used for a funeral last week.
An example of a potential future design of the Loop Living Cocoon will be on display at the (Re)Design Death exhibition in the Cube Design Museum in Kerkrade, the Netherlands, from 21 September.
The Living Cocoon is currently available for preorder.