Imagine a cemetery with rolling hills, tombstones as far as the eye can see. Usually grey and always lifeless, they stand out next to lush green grass and well-manicured foliage. At best, their reminders of deceased loved ones buried below, at worst, they’re unfeeling statues that will only degrade over time.
Not all yearn to be forever entombed in a plush box, nor does everyone find freedom in having their ashes spread to the wind. For the rest of us, we can be a tree.
Now picture those same rolling hills, covered in grass and flowers. But instead of drab stone marking our loved ones’ final resting place, picture a new tree sprouting toward the sky — a mini-forest of sorts, living memorials instead of weeping stone. As time passes and trees grow, family members can care for and celebrate under its shelter for years to come.
Available in six seed options, including choose-your-own, Bios Urn offers bio-capsules designed to use your loved ones’ remains to grow a tree. These biodegradable units consist of a soil mix in an expansion disk that expands into the lower cone, filled with ashes, as the tree grows and its roots expand.
Bios also offers an Incube that, when used with their Urn, automatically waters trees as they grow inside. When connected wirelessly, the Incube can use data from other like sources to determine best watering schedules.
The Capsula Mindi Project takes a slightly different approach. Their goal is to transform gray cemeteries into colorful forests, while providing tree memorials that will only improve over time.
The team behind Capsula Mindi, Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel, likened their approach as a return to the womb. The deceased’s body is placed, in the fetal position, inside a starch-based, egg-like pod, and then buried in a traditional ceremony.
But instead of a tombstone marking the spot, a tree would be planted on top of the pod. As the tree roots expand, the burial pod will biodegrade as it provides nutrients for the growing tree, turning it into a living symbol of your deceased loved one. Cremated remains would be placed in a small pod, and buried in a similar manner.