How Mushroom Burial Suits Work: Process, Cost + Eco-Friendliness

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You’re probably asking, “What in the world is a mushroom burial suit?”  Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one! This concept has only recently started to gain in popularity and is still new to most people. 

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Mushroom burial suits are a biodegradable way to bury your body. These suits cause far less pollution and damage to the environment than traditional kinds of burial. They are also much more affordable than a typical casket or coffin.

In this article, we’ll discuss the costs and processes involved in using a mushroom burial suit. We hope this information helps you decide if this unique option is right for you.

What’s a Mushroom Burial Suit?

Mushroom burial suits are organic cotton clothes with mushroom spores sewn into the fabric. You buy these suits for burial- typically foregoing a coffin in favor of burial directly in the ground.  

Once buried the mushroom spores help decompose your body. Not only do they eliminate waste, but they turn your body toxins into enzymes. This natural process assures your remains won't contaminate plant life or trickle into a water supply. 

Traditional burials use caskets coated with toxic preservatives. Once buried, the caskets slowly decay into the earth, and the toxins leach into the soil. These toxins then remain in the soil, and can negatively affect the area around your burial plot.

Cremation requires extremely hot temperatures, which needs a lot of fuel. The smoke from cremation also releases chemicals, like carbon monoxide and mercury (from dental fillings), into the atmosphere. And, these chemicals can further pollute the soil after your burial. 

Traditional burials can have a long-term impact on the environment. Increased environmentalism means more people are turning to green burial options.

» MORE: Don't skip these commonly forgotten post loss tasks. View our guide.

 

How Much Does a Mushroom Burial Suit Cost?

The mushroom burial suit costs approximately $1,500. Only one company currently makes the suit: Coeio. They also offer small burial pouches for pets for about $200. While not inexpensive, using a mushroom burial suit costs far less than most funerals in the US.  A typical burial costs between $6,000- $9,000.  

The growing popularity of green funerals means graveyards are increasingly willing to allow new burial practices. The suit also fits in a casket if you’d prefer a more traditional burial. The mushrooms will speed up the decomposition process of the casket by using the wood as a nutrient source. 

A burial can also happen on private property if you prefer. Make sure the burial plot is at least four feet deep to ensure the mushrooms can germinate properly. And, make sure you confirm the legality of this choice before burial. The laws about burying human remains on private property differ from state to state. And you certainly don’t want your loved ones to find that out after your burial. 

Ideally, you should have these details worked out ahead of time. That way it won’t add stress to your bereaved loved ones.  

Do you want an eco-friendly burial?

Let your loved ones know. Share your choices — including funeral, burial, and cremation preferences —instantly with free Cake end-of-life profile.

How Does It Work? 

To buy a mushroom burial suit, simply visit Coeio and follow the instructions to purchase a suit. You should store your suit in a dark, cool location and it will keep until you’re ready for burial.

Once purchased, leave instructions for your loved ones to dress you in the suit and bury you within 24 hours. Burial within that window will make sure the mushrooms can germinate properly.

After the burial, the magic of the suit begins. Mushrooms are self-seeking in their growth. The primary fungus used in this suit is Mycelium. The mushrooms and other microorganisms within the suit germinate and begin to grow. As they grow they gradually decompose the body around them. The process neutralizes many of the body’s toxins like lead, mercury, pesticides, and BPA. This process creates a nutrient-rich carcass that feeds the earth.

The idea of the suit is the brainchild of entrepreneur and artist Jae Rhim Lee. While she was a student at MIT, Jae Rhim became fascinated with how the human body affects its natural environment.

Rhim studied mycoremediation; the science of using fungi to decontaminate the environment. She discovered certain spores of mushrooms naturally decompose heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, and pharmaceutical waste.

Jae Rhim had the idea of combining her three passions; art, fashion, and science, into one invention. And the Mushroom Burial Suit was born!  She fed her hair, skin, and nails to different types of mushrooms to determine which variety performed this unique job best. Once she settled on the best mushrooms to use, she created her first suits. Jae Rhim debuted the prototype suit at a fashion show at the Boston Museum of Science in 2008.  

Rhim also created the Decompiculture Society which, “Seeks to advance knowledge and awareness of postmortem options through research, education, and decompiculture: the cultivation of organisms that assist in metabolic decay.

Society members include funeral industry professionals, providers of green burial options, artists, designers, health-care workers, and curious individuals who seek to explore the relationship between human bodies and the environment from a secular perspective.”  

If you listen to Jae Rhim’s TED Talk, it’s clear there is a philosophical element to the mushroom suit’s creation as well. Jae Rhim believes that contemplating these burial decisions ahead of time helps us confront our mortality. 

As she has said in interviews, “Green burials are a step in the right direction but they don’t address the toxins in our bodies. Deciding to be buried in this way is about taking responsibility for our own burden to the planet.” 

The mushroom burial suit is a product of trial and error. Another idea Rhim experimented with was decompiculture makeup, which accelerates the decaying process. By accelerating the decaying process Rhim encouraged people to face death instead of denying it. 

The mushroom burial suit is more subtle than the makeup concept. But it requires people to plan ahead for their death, and hopefully confront death more directly in the process.

The suit is growing in popularity. After his death in March 2019, Luke Perry of 90210 fame was buried in one. His daughter Sophie had this to say about the experience, “My dad discovered the suit, and was more excited by this than I have ever seen him.  He was buried in this suit, one of his final wishes. They are truly a beautiful thing for this beautiful planet, and I want to share it with all of you.” 

This new option for burial is growing in popularity. But many people could still be uncomfortable with the idea of the mushroom suit. To avoid any potential uneasiness talk through your plans with your loved ones. Show them pictures, answer questions, and let them know why you want your body taken care of this way.

Have a frank discussion about your wishes and answer any questions your loved ones have. Being forthcoming with your choice should help your family feel more comfortable. While you won’t be able to share your decision with everyone who attends your funeral, being as transparent as possible will help. 

Is The Mushroom Burial Suit for You? 

Mushroom burial suits are an excellent modern alternative to traditional burial. And they can save you money while helping the environment.  

As people become more aware of green funerals, inventive concepts such as burial suits will become more commonplace. Whether you enjoy the philosophical approach to death, learning about burial alternatives, or want to reduce your carbon footprint, the mushroom burial suit is a wonderful after-death option.


Sources

  1. Coeio. https://coeio.com/
  2. Deshmukh, Radhika. Diverse Metabolic Capacities of Fungi for Bioremediation, Indian Journal of Microbiology. 2016 Apr 23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4920763/
  3. Lee, Rae Rhim. Is There a Better Way to Be Buried? NPR. 2016 Jan 29. https://www.npr.org/2016/01/29/464434790/is-there-a-better-way-to-be-buried
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