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How the ‘Mushroom Death Suit’ Breaks Down Your Body for Nature

For those interested in natural cemeteries, but not so fond of being buried, allow me to introduce you to the Mushroom Death Suit.

The concept is the brainchild of artist and MIT research fellow Jae Rhim Lee, who became inspired to research natural methods to assist decomposition after learning more about the modern funeral industry.

“I am interested in cultural death denial, and why we are so distanced from our bodies, and especially how death denial leads to funeral practices that harm the environment – using formaldehyde and pink make-up and all that to make your loved one look vibrant and alive, so that you can imagine they’re just sleeping rather than actually dead,” she told New Scientist.

Lee’s first design as part of her Infinity Burial Project is an organic cotton suit lined with a crocheted netting containing mushroom spores. Lee chose mushrooms because of their ability to not only quickly break down organic matter, but also because they’re excellent at cleanning up environment toxins in soil. She’s currently developing unique strain(s) of fungi (called Infinity Mushrooms) trained to not only quickly break down our bodies, but also dispel the toxins they contain.

“What also started it was the mycologist Paul Stamets who I studied with. He is kind of the grandfather of people who work with mushrooms,” she adds. “He talks about the mushroom as being the interface organism between life and death, that mushrooms are the master decomposers. So what better organism to work with?”

With Lee’s current design, here’s how the mushroom suit would work:
The fluids of the recently deceased are replaced with an eco-friendly alternative embalming fluid containing a “liquid spore slurry”.

The outside of the body is applied with a “Decompiculture Makeup” containing “dry mineral makeup and dried mushroom spores and a separate liquid culture medium.”

Combined with the suit, the spores are activated to grow and start breaking down the body.

Lee says she imagines her suit being used above ground, but covered. Presently, she’s still conducting tests on meat but already has a few people who have offered to donate their bodies to be consumed by mushrooms.

Check out her TED Talk on the Infinity Burial Project above.

article by Michael D’estries

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Kara, selected from Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature Network's mission is to help you improve your world. From covering the latest news on health, science, sustainable business practices and the latest trends in eco-friendly technology, MNN.com strives to give you the accurate, unbiased information you need to improve your world locally, globally, and personally all in a distinctive thoughtful, straightforward, and fun style.

121 comments

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11:26AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

I like that idea. I WAS thinking cremation before, but this is better... Sorry, those old fingers don't have the push they used too.

11:25AM PDT on Jul 9, 2014

I like that idea. I ws thinking cremation before, but this is better...

12:55AM PDT on May 30, 2014

why not .

11:07PM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Better than fancy expensive vaults and caskets.

10:05AM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Well I suppose the other two options are being burried in a locked casket, until the casket breaks down, six feet under the ground isn't really appealing. But then again having your body burned to ashes doesn't sound great either. So might as well...?

10:04AM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Hmm...

7:24AM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

so smart what a great idea!!

5:35AM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Ta

5:34AM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Ta

6:33PM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

great idea as long as there are no GMO involved...

and I venture to doubt the funeral industry will tolerate it....

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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