Turns out dust to dust isn’t so simple, with the formaldehyde used to embalm dead bodies inhibiting decomposition. Ashes to ashes, meanwhile, releases toxic chemicals into the environment, like mercury, dioxins, and sulphur dioxide.
Coeio, a company that specialises in “infinity burial products,” has a better solution. They created the Infinity Burial Suit, which speeds up the decomposition of the body with mushrooms. The white lightning bolts on the suit are actually infused with spores—from mushrooms fed with Coeio CEO Jae Rhim Lee’s own hair and fingernails.
Lee believes that the Infinity Burial Suit isn’t just an eco-friendlier alternative to commonplace burials and cremations, but is an extension of the relationship between man and the natural environment. “If you think that you’re not a part of the Earth, there’s a disconnect in how you think about the environment,” she says.
Cheerily, Lee has been pondering on this relationship for some time. Her graduate work at MIT focused on the development of clothing, furniture and recycling systems that play upon the connectedness of the mind and body to the environment. In particular, how everything turns to waste.
Post-MIT, Lee moved onto the study of mycoremediation—the use of fungi to break down contaminants in the environment—because she believes that mushrooms can be a “symbol and tool for a cultural shift in how we think about death and our relationship to the planet.”
The spiffiness of the suit is no accident, either. Lee notes that fashion functions as a vehicle for “re-imagining our relationship with death,” evident in the dressing and dolling of dead bodies in mainstream funeral practices.
Given that funeral costs can run into the tens of thousands of ringgit, the US$1,500 Infinity Burial Suit is a relative steal.
Check out a TED Talk by Jae Rhim Lee about the burial suit: