Biodegradable Burial Containers for Green Burial: Part 3 – Strange & Unusual
This is the last blog in our series, ‘Biodegradable Burial Containers for Green Burial.’ Part 1 covered the What & Why behind Green Burial Containers and reviewed the first and most simple option, Burial Shrouds. Part 2 explored the different Casket and Coffin options including Cardboard Coffins, Pine Coffins, and Woven Caskets. We are now approaching some of the more strange and unusual biodegradable burial containers. These aren’t for everyone but certain people will LOVE these options.
The Mushroom Suit – Infinity Burial Suit & Shroud by Coeio
You may have heard of the mushroom suit that uses mushrooms to aid in the decomposition of the body. It’s not for everyone but many people have fallen in love with this concept. How does it work?
“The Infinity Burial Suit is a handcrafted garment that is worn by the deceased… The Infinity Burial Suit has a built in biomix, made up of of mushrooms and other microorganisms that together do three things; aid in decomposition, work to neutralize toxins found in the body and transfer nutrients to plant life. The end result of being buried in the Infinity Burial Suit, or any of Coeio’s products, is that bodies are transformed into vital nutrients that enrich the earth and foster new life.”
In order to understand the potential benefit of the mushroom suit, it’s important to remember that nature is extremely intelligent and the body goes through a natural process of decay; your body does not require mushrooms to do that. What is unique about their claim is the mushroom’s ability to neutralize toxins and help carry nutrients to plant life. This is a big claim and currently there aren’t any scientific papers being cited on their site. It is important to see the science behind these claims and more research, for example, a study comparing soil samples and plant behavior in and around bodies with the mushroom suit compared to bodies without the suit, to deem if mushrooms really do provide extra benefits that are worth the cost of theses suits. If your body is buried according to green burial methods, which is typically 3 feet below the ground (6 feet is too deep to benefit plants, which is the main reason why green burials are typically 3 feet deep) – your body will still benefit the plant life above, again begging the question as to whether mushrooms are necessary. Regardless, if the idea of mushrooms assisting with the breakdown of your body is appealing, then the Infinity Burial Suit might be for you.
Infinity Burial Options: There is an option of an Infinity Burial Suit (see photo above) or and Infinity Burial Shroud (to learn more about shrouds, see Part 1), both of which include complimentary funeral planning assistance (which is a really great added benefit). The suit and shroud are made from organic cotton in black or natural, but they also will do custom colors on request, like hot pink. For pets, there is a ‘Traditional’ or ‘Comfort’ option. The Traditional design is basic like the shroud and has an extra-small option for guinea pigs, ferrets, birds, lizards, and small rabbits plus a large option for big dogs such as Great Danes. The Comfort option is a nicer design that is a little bit cushier, which means it costs a little more, but it doesn’t include an extra-small option.
Infinity Burial Suit/Shroud Cost: $100-$325 for pets, $1500 for humans (includes shipping + complimentary funeral planning assistance)
Where To Buy Infinity Burial Products:
Burial Pods – Turning Your Body Into A Tree
The idea of your body becoming a tree can be appealing – there’s something poetic and comforting about your remains going back into the earth and repeating the cycle of life. That’s probably part of the reason that Capsula Mundi has captured the imagination of so many with the design of their Burial Pod, which connects an entombed body to the root structure of a tree. Even though these burial pods are still in the design phase and aren’t on the market yet, they’re still receiving a lot of attention! Here’s how they work: On their website, Capsula Mundi shares:
“The body is first encapsulated into a fetal position in order to fit inside of the burial pod. The pod looks like an earthy piece of art, but really it’s a biodegradable “casket… Once the burial pod is buried deep underground a tree seed or a young tree is placed directly above, and from one source of life sparks another.”
This might sound great but I can tell you from a burial perspective, this presents a lot of logistical challenges, which might be part of the reason that it has been in the design phase since 2003. Here are the obvious challenges: Getting the body into the fetal position and placing it into the pod; transporting the pod with the entombed body to the burial site; digging a hole sufficient for the egg shape (remember that many green cemeteries dig the holes by hand); lowering the pod with an attached tree into the hole. I can’t imagine this would be something we could accomplish or do at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary (we dig our holes by hand and we don’t use any heavy machinery). But if you are one of the people who loves this idea, there is good news! This same effect can be achieved with just about any green burial. If you opt for a memorial planting, in which you choose to have a plant or tree placed above your grave, you are essentially achieving the same effect. The decomposition of the body giving back to the land is one of the basic premises of green burial and part of the reason why green cemeteries dig three feet opposed to six feet. (As mentioned above, six feet is too deep to benefit plant life.) The main difference between planting a tree above your body and Capsula Mundi’s Burial Pod, is that they attach the root structure to the burial container (green cemeteries don’t do that). Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great idea and I love the spirit in which this project was born… but it’s important to know that the same effect can be achieved through basic green burial, when you choose to have a memorial planting above your grave.
Burial Pod Options: Capsula Mundi is working on designs for the human body, which hasn’t come to market yet. There are different trees you can choose from and the hope is to have local tree planting options as well. Although an option for human body burial doesn’t exist yet, they recently completed an urn design for cremated remains and are accepting pre-order requests. However, there isn’t enough information available to determine if these meet green burial standards.
Burial Pod Cost: Not on the market yet
Learn More About Burial Pods: Capsula Mundi
Ecopods – Made From Paper
Ecopods are constructed with recycled paper then finished with paper made from mulberry bark and have an aesthetically pleasing design reminiscent of a mummy sarcophagus. The Ecopod was designed in the U.K. by Hazel Selina, who went from working in natural birth and shifted focus to natural burial. The Ecopod comes with a fitted cotton mattress inside, removable metal handles, and 100% natural heavy duty canvas straps. The paper-clay contains natural hardeners that once dry, make the Ecopod both strong and lightweight. The Ecopod weighs 40 pounds and can hold up to 210 pounds, and can be used for both burial and cremation. No longer being manufactured in the U.K., Natural Burial Company Store is currently in the process of bringing production to the U.S.
Ecopod Options: The Ecopod comes in a range of color options, some of which have a screen printing option. There is blue, which can be printed with white doves; red, which can be printed with a golden sun; green, which can be printed with a celtic cross; and simple white. They come in a small and medium and currently do not accommodate someone over 6 feet tall.
Ecopod Cost: $3000
Where To Buy Ecopods: Although temporarily out of stock, Natural Burial Company Store will be carrying them once they finish bringing production to the U.S.
Three blogs later, we have covered quite a number of biodegradable burial containers options. From the most basic shroud to a mushroom suit that helps decompose your body – there is an option for anyone interested in green burial. It is a wonderful turning of the tide that a more earth-friendly, simple and economical approach to burial exists. You can see the complete list of Green Burial Council Certified Products here. In the future we will be covering burial options for cremated remains. Join our newsletter and follow us on Facebook so you know when our next blog is published and to learn more about death, dying, and natural burial. If you are interested in learning more about green burial options and burial at Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, please feel free to contact us. We love exploring the possibilities and sharing what we know.