Today's top pick from the Dutch Design Week helps us reflect on alternative, more sustainable burials.
Did you know that our remains are becoming a threat to our environment? Ash scattering fields and graveyards struggle with soil and groundwater pollution and the number of toxins are rising due to the high amount of ash scatterings and burials happening in relatively small areas.
Enter Studio Nienke Hoogvliet and her ‘MOURN' project, which redefines the concept of an urn. The Dutch Water authorities (united in the ‘Energy and Raw Materials Factory’) can reclaim a new sustainable material from wastewater – a bioplastic called PHA (Poly Hydroxy Alkanoate). This material is similar to regular plastic but completely dissolves in nature. Small organisms in the soil can feed on PHA, which makes the process of biodegradability similar to that of wood. By mixing PHA with cremation ashes, an object is formed that can be given back to nature as a whole.
MOURN prevents soil and groundwater pollution and impacts local flora and fauna as little as possible. The urn has three distinct types of shapes depending on the compactness, type, and quality of the soil. This way, soil can process the substances at its own pace. Saying goodbye to a loved one is one of the hardest things us humans ever have to do. Doing so in a in a beautiful and responsible way is in a sense therapeutic. In fact, we feel that the business of undertaking, is ready to be redefined according to our current context; both in terms of content and design. In this film Hoogvliet sheds light on the project.