Environment

This Mushroom Burial Suit Turns Corpses Into Clean Compost

The Infinity Burial Suit, a suit made of mushrooms that cleanses the body of toxins, consumes it, and leaves only pollutant-free compost, is coming to market in spring 2016 after more than six years of development, Grist reports.

Back in 2011, designers Jae Rhim Lee and Mike Ma introduced their idea for a convenient and environmentally-friendly way to put dead bodies to rest in an age when funerals and burials can cost anywhere from $7,000 and $10,000.

Throughout their research, Lee and Ma tested a variety of mushrooms used to clean toxic environments. Lee fed her own hair, skin, and nails to mushrooms, and continued to breed the best consumers. In essence, the suit eats the human body and its many, many toxins, from pesticides and preservatives to heavy metals, that typically pollute the earth post-burial. Corpses buried in the suit will leave nothing but clean compost.

Providing a means for more environmentally friendly burials might seem a bit over the top, but you'd be surprised how destructive both cremations and standard burials can be from an environmental standpoint.

The majority of Americans choose to be buried, according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) of Southern California. In preparation for a burial, the corpse is "injected with a cocktail of formaldehyde, methanol, and other solvents that prevent decay," according to Grist. The solution is meant to prevent decay, but inevitably, the body will decompose, and the toxic chemicals injected in it will leak into the earth.

Meanwhile, cremation isn't exactly environmentally friendly either. It requires 28 gallons of fuel and releases of 540 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air according to the FCA. The process of baking the body in an 1,800 degree oven "releases soot, carbon monoxide, and trace metals like mercury into the air," according to Grist. Altogether, cremation isn't too detrimental, but this spring, the revolution that is the Infinity Burial Suit will emerge as the ultimate eco-friendly alternative.

Here are a few powerful images of the mushroom burial suit at work:

To Lee, one of the suit's designers, the mushroom burial suit not only offers an eco-friendly alternative to handling corpses, but also a new perspective on death, humanity, and the environment.

"We want to eat, not be eaten by, our food,” she said in a 2011 TED Talk. “But as I watch the mushrooms grow and digest my body, I imagine the Infinity Mushroom as a symbol of a new way of thinking about death and the relationship between my body and the environment."