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Source: Studio Nienke Hoogvliet

This Dutch Designer Is Using Wastewater To Create Sustainable Urns

By Joseph Maclellan

As eco-conscious citizens, we spend our lives attempting to make choices that lessen our environmental footprint and promote sustainability. But we often forget that our impact on the planet doesn't stop after death. In fact, the conventional methods for interment—cremation and burial—are environmentally detrimental, causing pollution above and under ground and wasting natural resources. 

To combat this and other environmental issues, Dutch design studio Studio Nienke Hoogvliet has created a sustainable urn out of a mix of bioplastic formed from wastewater and the ashes themselves to create not just a vessel for a loved one's remains, but an object "that can be given back to nature as a whole," as studio founder Nienke Hoogvliet put it on her website.

Called Mourn, the design project uses a method developed by the Dutch Water Authorities to turn bacteria found in sewage water into polyhydroxyalkanoate, or PHA, a bioplastic that functions like regular plastic but is completely biodegradable—small organisms in soil can feed on the material, meaning it decomposes a lot like wood.