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The Rise of Mushroom Coffins: Sustainable Farewell to Tradition

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

A Dutch inventor is changing the way we approach eco-friendly afterlife choices. By using mycelium, similar to mushroom roots, and hemp fiber, he's creating coffins. These unique coffins biodegrade in about six weeks, unlike traditional wooden ones that take years to break down.


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mushroom coffins in the forest
Loop Biotech

A Dutch startup called Loop Biotech is now offering a unique solution: coffins that naturally decompose within just 45 days of being buried. The company, which began in 2020, produces these special coffins and also offers an urn option. They sell their products in both Europe and the United States, with support from investors in both countries, including Nature's Pride founder Shawn Harris.


The founders, Lonneke Westhoff and Bob Hendrikx, launched this venture with the aim of making a positive environmental impact. They were inspired by the remarkable ability of mushrooms to transform fallen trees into new life. Their coffins are designed to allow the deceased to become part of the natural ecosystem, which is a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional burial practices that can contribute to pollution.


So, how do these coffins work? Loop Biotech creates them by growing mushrooms and combining them with hemp fibers. They use recycled hemp and mycelium, which is the root structure of mushrooms. These materials grow together inside a mold and, incredibly, the coffins are ready in just seven days. After being used for burial, they biodegrade in approximately 45 days. These special coffins can be used for traditional burials, cremations, or natural burials. In some areas, it's even possible to plant trees on top of the burial site, allowing the remains to serve as a source of nourishment for the tree.


The pricing for these unique coffins ranges from 695 to 995 euros, equivalent to about $745 to just over $1,000. While the prices for U.S. customers are still being determined, they may be slightly higher. Customers can choose from various coffin and urn designs to suit their preferences, and the urns even come with trees on top.


The motivation behind creating these mushroom coffins is to make a positive contribution to the planet. The company's journey began as a college project in the Netherlands. The founder, Bob Hendrikx, sought a way for people to leave a beneficial legacy after their passing, rather than a negative environmental impact. He conducted research on organisms like coral and mushrooms, which eventually led him to the idea of incorporating mycelium and mushrooms into coffins. The concept took shape when someone asked him about the fate of their grandma's remains at his place. When he explained that her remains could enrich the forest floor, it struck him that using mushrooms in coffins offered a meaningful way for individuals to make a positive impact even after their death.


VIDEO: A Dutch inventor has created an organic coffin aimed at people aiming to live in a sustainable way even after death. The coffins are "grown" by putting mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, together with hemp fibre in a special mould. (AP Video: Aleksandar Furtula)


The company can produce 500 coffins or urns every month, and it's gaining popularity in environmentally conscious Northern European countries, where people understand the importance of mushrooms in ecosystems.


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