There are a number of ways to make funerals more environmentally friendly, but one common theme is allowing dead to return to the earth. Fashion designer Pia Interlandi thinks along the same lines, creating garments that biodegrade along with the body.
Interlandi writes on her website that her feelings about dressing the dead were shaped by the experience of dressing her grandfather for his funeral:
"Instead of it being a scary and morbid experience I realised I been given opportunity to usher this proud, strong and traditional man, who had been stripped of those qualities in his last days and had died in a hospital gown, back into something not only he was more familiar with, but that my Nonna, his wife of 60 years, would remember as the last thing she saw him in. And that the honor of doing so, was entirely beautiful."
Synthetic fabrics don't break down, so the cloths are made from materials like hemp, silk and cotton. Interlandi researched her fabrics by burying 21 dead pigs wearing her garments, with the goal of understanding the rate and nature of the material's decomposition in contact with a body. (She notes that, "A preference was made for pigs that were underweight, sick, or with hernias, which made them less desirable for human food.")
“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."