Mushroom coffins that biodegrade in 45 days will be available in US – USA TODAY

A Dutch startup company is now selling coffins that biograde within 45 days of burial.
The company, Loop Biotech, started in 2020 and makes both coffins and an urn model, shipping to Europe and the United States. The company also has investors in both the United States and the Netherlands, including Nature’s Pride founder Shawn Harris.
Founders Lonneke Westhoff and Bob Hendrikx said on their website that they wanted to do something to “give humanity a positive footprint.”
The pair said they were in awe of the mushroom and how it is able to take dead, fallen trees and turn them into new life.
Their coffins allow human remains to become food sources for the earth, Hendrikx told USA TODAY Thursday morning.
He said the idea is useful because the funeral industry and dead materials such as headstones can lead to lots of pollution.
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To make the coffins, the company grows mushrooms and combines them with hemp fibers. 
The company takes upcycled hemp and combines it with mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. Together, the mycelium and hemp fibers grow inside a mold. It’s all done in seven days and the coffins biodegrade in 45 days, Hendrikx said.
The company’s products can be used in traditional burial, cremations and natural burials, Hendrikx added. In some places, trees can be planted on top of human remains. Once that happens, the human remains become a new food source for the tree, he said.
“You can now have a piece of nature to be (remembered) by” versus a tombstone, he said.
He said the company’s mushroom coffins allow people to leave a positive imprint on the earth versus a negative one.
“The material, the mycelium, if you just put it in the soil, it’s a soil enhancer that increases biodiversity,” he said. “Combining a product that is good for the soil and something to bury people in is a win win.”
The company offers three main products: a Living Cocoon coffin, a ForestBed coffin and an EarthRise urn.
Prices range from €695 to €995 – that’s about $745 to just over $1,000. Prices are still being worked out for U.S. customers and will likely be more expensive in America, Hendrikx said.
Some cultures may be more familiar with coffins that look like the Living Cocoon, Hendrikx said.
“It’s a coffin shape,” he said. “The ForestBed is a product designed especially for the Dutch market, so it’s almost like a tray (or) a carrier in which a person is wrapped around in a cloth. It’s a little bit more (of an) inclusive product.”
And the company’s urns come with trees on top, he said.
Hendrikx said the company was started as part of a college project at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He wanted to do something to help people leave a positive footprint on the earth or at least minimize the largely negative footprint humanity leaves behind.
“We can only do that if we collaborate with the living world,” he said. “Collaborate with living organisms instead of dead organisms.”
He researched organisms such as coral and mushrooms. This research led him to mycelium, mushrooms and how they are recyclers in the cycle of life. 
He also said the idea to make coffins out of mushrooms started with a question someone asked him:
“What happens if my grandma dies in your home?” the person asked.
As Hendrikx explained that her remains would become a source of nutrients for the forest floor, it hit him that turning mushrooms into coffins would allow people to give back to the earth.
“When we die … we should be adding value instead of another footprint,” he said.


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