Green Burial Topic: Burial Clothing

The new frontier of environmentalism has created some fascinating trends in the funeral industry. The new fashion in the death industry is green and ecologically-responsible clothing.

Infinity Burial Suit

Artist and entrepreneur Jae Rhim Lee has designed and created the ultimate green burial suit: a shroud lined with flesh-eating mushrooms meant to break down a human corpse and release helpful nutrients back into the soil. The human body decomposes over many years, but this suit may help that process speed up. Ms. Lee, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wants people to be more open and accepting of death. She is of the opinion that we all know we are going to die, so why don’t we plan ahead and try to take care of our planet in the process?

Ms. Lee explains her design process, along with fashion designer Daniel Silverstein, in a TED talk, where she wears the suit on stage. The jacket has wooden buttons and there are flaps that cover the face and hands that can be pulled back for a viewing or memorial service. There are two different species of mushroom in the lining of the burial outfit, whose job it is to break down the toxins stored in the human body and deliver the nutrients back into the earth over the months of decomposition.

The Infinity Burial Suit is actually available to order, but it will set you back about $1,500. Though these suits have been an internet sensation and a topic for much discussion, not everyone is open to the idea of speeding up their own decomposition.

Garments for the Grave

Australian designer and funeral guru Pia Interlandi has made a new version of a traditional death shroud design. Upon the death of her grandfather, Pia had a realization about the clothing we wear in life: that it is not conducive to death. Think of all the zippers and buttons we do and undo every day. We spend money on flattering shapes and soft fabrics, when the deceased really have no need for such things.

Additionally, according to Interlandi, synthetic fabrics are not environmentally friendly. The staying power of fabrics like polyester and satin actually prevent a lot of natural decomposition. Interlandi created garments that do the opposite. She says, in an interview with Wired magazine in October of 2013,  “The body is a gift. It’s a bag of nutrients and water and protein. When you place it back into the earth, I think the garment is almost like wrapping paper.”

Her “Garments for the Grave” are elegant and subtle. She uses a keen eye and a fashion expertise to mix the green burial priorities with beautiful style and aestheticism. The garment is made of natural fibers, including hemp, raw silk, and organic cotton. The garment has mitten-like covers for the hands, and a veil piece for the face and head. The overall vesture looks ethereal and barely tangible, like a mist or a cloud. This more traditional method of dressing the dead is gaining popularity as green burials become more commonplace!

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