Latest trend in burial attire

If you are the type who separates the garbage; puts up with the extra cost of buying organic foods; avoids plastic, styrofoam and other materials that will persist over a million years in the environment and choke the animals who ingest them; you will love Jae Rhim Lee’s alternative to cremation and casket burial: the eco-friendly and stylish burial suit.

This customized garment is made of a mix of proprietary materials and fungal threads that fruit into mushrooms after you are buried in it. The biomix absorbs and eliminates toxins that seep from the body into the soil and aids in decomposition.

Burial suit, 2019; organic cotton, wood, biomaterial, by Jae Rhim Lee. Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design.

I saw it displayed at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design last week in New York, and it must not come cheap. There is, however, a more affordable green way to dispose of your body. Washington just became the first US state to approve (effective May 1, 2020) composting as an alternative to burying or cremating human remains. So if you ever wanted to flow posthumously into, let’s say, a plum, that might be the way to go.

And as we meander into botanics, I also had the chance to participate in a leaf-pressing workshop that turned out to be extraordinary. It was led by Sam van Aken, an artist who is using the technique of grafting to produce living masterpieces: trees that grow 40 types of fruit. Each.

Where am I going with this line of thought?

Imagine being buried in Jae Rhim Lee’s suit under Van Aken’s botanical oeuvre, to be composted right into the Tree of 40 Fruit.

Master botanartist Sam van Aken at a Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design workshop.





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