Loop, a startup based in the Netherlands recently created its first batch of compostable coffins. The Living Cocoon was designed by Bob Hendrikx, Loop founder and researcher at the Delft University of Technology, using mycelium, and the first casket was buried recently in The Hague, according to The Guardian. In interviews with Vice and Dezeen, Hendrikx discussed his environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional, slow-to-decompose coffins.
Composting yourself — Thanks to our modern lifestyles, our bodies have become increasingly toxic to the soil, polluting it with microplastics and other hazardous materials. The mycelium in fungus loves transforming toxins into nutrients. “...Mycelium was used in Chernobyl, it is utilised [sic] in Rotterdam to clean up soil, and some farmers also apply it to make the land healthy again," Hendrikx told Dezeen.
Living Cocoons are created in about seven days by combining mycelium with an organic substrate in a mold. As the mycelium eats the substrate, the casket is formed. The entire process is passive and doesn’t require heat, light, or any other kind of energy. The final coffins also come with a bed of moss flush with plant roots, microorganisms, and more — essentially paused — mycelium that will activate with water once buried.
The coffins should take 30 to 45 days to decompose compared to the approximate decade traditional caskets take to break down. As an added benefit, they also help break down the body within about three years. Still, more exact numbers will come with time as more people opt for the Living Cocoon for their final repose.
“We already have this product launched on the market, but what we want to really know is how long does [decomposition] take exactly, what does the decomposition phase look like, and also — this is super-important — what kind of chemicals can it absorb and in what amounts,” Hendrikx told Vice.
The caskets are already available through Loop as well as a few partners. From Loop, pre-orders for Living Cocoons cost about $2,326 and ship in three months. Hendrikx hopes that as production and demand increases, the price will drop along with the production timeline.