Forget hyperbole. This clothing line is literally to die for.
The founder of Garments for the Grave, a new line of environmentally friendly funeral garments, thinks the world is ready for a greener alternative to coffins. The clothing—sort of a cross between a shroud and a beekeeping suit—comes in fabrics like cotton, linen, and hemp, all of which biodegrade at the same rate as human corpses.
The line’s creator, Australian fashionista Pia Interlandi, says she was compelled to create the garments after her grandfather passed away. “My grandmother—his wife of 60 years—simply did what she had seen others do, which was to dress him in his best suit,” she wrote to the Daily News in an email.
But accessories—suit buttons and skirt zippers, for example—serve no practical purpose once a person is deceased. So Interlandi set out to manufacture a line that helped our corpses enrich the Earth.
“The body is a gift,” Interlandi told Wired. “It’s a big bag of nutrients and water and protein. When you place it back into the Earth, I think the garment is almost like wrapping paper.”
To discern how certain fibers decompose, Interlandi partnered with a forensic scientist and the two played a macabre game of dress up with 21 dead pigs. “They exhumed the carcasses periodically over a year to check the decomposition of different materials, all of which break down faster when buried with bodies than when buried alone,” reports Wired.
Interlandi’s line does come with one big caveat, of course—the dearly departed must actually be buried directly into the ground. (Think about it: What good is a biodegradable garment if it’s wrapped around a body that’s tucked into a steel casket built to last for hundreds of years?)
In the U.S., most coffins are made from mined metals, toxic plastic, or endangered wood. What’s more, American cemeteries use 30 million feet of hardwoods. And according to the Centers for Disease Control, cremation releases up to 216 toxic pollutants into our atmosphere.
Still, for as eco-awesome as Garments for the Grave is, it can’t hold a candle to the Infinity Burial Suit, the crème-de-la-crème of afterlife vestures. Embroidered with thread-infused mushroom spores, the suit claims to be able to decompose your body after you die, which will help prevent dozens of fat-soluble toxins from re-entering the soil.