Burials may not be a fun subject to talk about but with nearly 8 billion people on the planet right now, it’s definitely important. And given how many different types of burials (1) people have come up with so far, it’s actually quite a “lively” conversation to have.
Some burials are traditional and based on religious practices, others strive for more economical resource-management or land-management, and a lot are just modern marketing gimmicks that only sound nice but aren’t practical on a mass scale (2).
Organic Burial Pods
One newer and potentially viable burial method is the organic burial pod created by Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel from Italy. Their project is called Capsula Mundi (3) and it uses biodegradable and efficiently-produced starch plastic pods to bury the deceased’s body and grow a tree out of it. The body is laid in the fetal position inside the capsule and a tree’s seed is placed with it. People can choose what seed they’re going to plant as Capsula Mundi offers quite a lot of choices.
Why Starch Plastic?
The burial pods work by using natural decomposition – essentially, as the person’s body decomposes, it becomes nutritional soil for the tree that’s going to grow out of the pod. The starch plastic itself also turns into biodegradable minerals.
Starch plastic is also much more efficient to mass-produce than something like wood which would’ve partly defeated the purpose of helping fight deforestation.
“Rigor mortis arises at different times for each individual and has a duration of a few hours. After rigor mortis passes, the body will again become soft and malleable. Once the body is laid within the Capsula, it will be planted in the earth like a seed,” the founders of Capsula Mundi say.
Organic Burial Urns
Capsula Mundi also offers the option of cremated ashes to be turned into a biodegradable urn if you want to plant a tree in your backyard. There’s something to be said about the negative environmental impact of cremation (4) but if you’re going to cremate a relative anyway, what better thing to do with their ashes than grow a tree out of them?
Ultimately, the most inspiring aspect of this idea is that cemeteries containing the burial pods would eventually become beautiful forests. Instead of being filled with tombstones, loved ones visiting a cemetery would get to view lovely green parks with trees that help the environment while also helping them keep a deep connection to those they have lost. These “memory forests” are quickly gaining traction in England and the U.S.