Mushroom coffins are the future of burial

Imagine cleaning your grave, eating your last meal, seeing the sunrise. Could all of this happen with a green coffin made of maitake mushrooms? At least that’s what Scott Decker, co-founder of Advanced Urban Massage & Healing, thinks.

“I personally think a mushroom burial is a clever solution to an ethical dilemma,” Decker says. “The absence of synthetic carbon dioxide in the coffin gives the experience of an earth burial, but also the feeling of a death-like setting.” Decker and his business partner, Chris Keller, started Advanced Urban in 2009. It uses mushrooms to create coffin-shaped memorials and meditation gardens.

“Mushrooms were our first choice for burial since they grow in a state of preservation, not compost, so there’s no need to worry about the environment. Plus, they grow close to death, so it provides an actual experience of death rather than decomposition,” he says. Decker and Keller travel the country with their plan, showing up at farmers markets and taking their glass caskets up to workshops. They were on display at the Smithsonian World Trade Center Museum earlier this year.

Decker says mushroom coffins can have the most fulfilling effect on the environment, even when only used once. To be environmentally sustainable, Decker believes everyone should take green burials seriously. “It’s up to individuals to decide what the possibilities are for their own circumstances,” he says. Decker hasn’t heard of anyone else who has mass-produced a mushroom coffin, but he’s excited to see that change.

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