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Mushroom Coffins

Updated: Sep 22, 2022

“We are Nutrients not waste”

As I was driving up the windy mountain road on my way home, I passed through the suspended fog bank that sometimes hangs midway around the mountain. I was listening to the BBC –as I often do in the car, and they were discussing and interviewing a few individuals about the benefits and incredible untapped advantage of the connective tissue of mycelium – the root structure that grows from Mushrooms. As is often the case when we are on the right path to something – the coincidence or synchronicity becomes evidential. I had just read an article on the “Living Cocoon”, a coffin that was made by growing mycelium around a coffin shaped frame, and as I was reading it – I thought about a company I’d been in touch with years ago for an art project – Ecovative Design, who also used mushroom fibers to create biodegradable packaging.

As I rose above the clouds to the shining sun above, the interviewer spoke to both the bio-designer of the coffin – 26 year old Bob Hendrikx, and to my delight Ecovative CEO Eben Bayer whose company’s Purpose is to “ Support Life on earth” Much like the mushroom itself. On their site is a quote from the very man whose concept of design is the architecture of my home –

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

— Buckminster Fuller

Mycelium and Mushrooms, A model for planetary survival.

So let us think more on all that can happen if we expanded our use of Living coffins - through death, life is once more.

“In the Netherlands, an 82-year old woman was recently laid to rest in a coffin made entirely of fast-composting mushroom fibers that will considerably increase the health of the soil in the years that follow.

Dubbed the ‘Living Cocoon,’ the coffin gives an option for a more ecologically conscious generation who may want to leave a positive impact on the planet after they’ve gone.

Created by 26-year-old Bob Hendrikx, a bio-designer from the University of Delft, the Living Cocoon is made by growing mycelium around a coffin-shaped frame. Mycelium is the part of the mushroom we can’t see—the underground fibrous network that makes up most of the life form.

Hendrikx also referred to it as “nature’s recycler,” as mycelium has been shown by mushroom scientists, called mycologists, to be able to process things which other agents of decomposition can’t tackle.

“Mycelium is constantly looking for waste products–oil, plastic, metals, other pollutants–and converting them into nutrients for the environment,” Hendrikx said, according to the Guardian. “This coffin means we actually feed the earth with our bodies. We are nutrients, not waste.

In contrast to the years it can take a conventional coffin—with artificial cloth fibers, laminated wood, and metal components—to break down, local newspapers covering the funeral claimed the Living Cocoon “takes one week to grow and then, containing the body of the deceased, takes an estimated two to three years to decompose.”

Mushroom growth at the foot of a tree

Mycelium and Mushrooms, “An organism that feeds you, heals you, reveals secrets of the universe and could help save the planet today”- L. Shwatrzberg. To grasp the awesome revelation of Mycelium and what it is and how it works and what it does watch the documentary Fantastic Fungi . “The magic beneath us - the foundation of life on earth. The root structure underneath budding mushrooms, is like the internet - it transfers nutrients from one plant structure to another and generates soil that gives Life.” Louis Schwartzberg. Mycelium is natures recycler. “The very essence of the world, humanity, of life and death, can be reduced to mushrooms – a model for planetary survival” Jeanette Catsoulis – NY Times.


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