Natural burial pods turn loved ones into trees

(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)
(Graphic by Autumn Mariano)

It’s a fairly new concept, people burying their loved ones in metal and hardwood caskets, and according to Alexandra Harker in her article, “Landscapes of the dead: an argument for conservation burial,” current caskets cause harm to the environment, due to embalming fluids, hardwood and metal.

But there is a new burial concept becoming popular in Europe—eco-friendly burial pods. This new style of burial is called the Capsula Mundi concept, which metaphorically allows a deceased loved one to live on through a growing tree. The idea was thought up by Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel.

These egg-shaped pods are not yet an option for people planning their loved one’s funerals, due to the current cemetery regulations.

Bodies aren’t embalmed, decreasing the amount of pollutants that are put into the earth, and these pods regenerate cemeteries with new foliage.

The pods will be constructed out of biodegradable starch. The deceased will be placed inside in a fetal position when laid to rest. Once the capsule is buried, there will then be a tree planted above the gravesite.

The tree is nourished by the deceased, as well as the burial pod. This concept works to turn the cemetery into a place of beauty and memories of the deceased loved ones.

“My parents did that with our chickens. They actually said it helps the tree grow or sprout. We have fruit trees, so they say when it grows, it sprouts more fruits,” said Jay Gutierrez, sophomore. “I’m for it. I think it’s cool. Normal burials right now are kind of expensive.”

Gutierrez went on to say that the tree is a more personal memory of the person and that he wishes to be buried this way.

For decades now, biodegradable burials have been on people’s minds.  There was an idea that suggested turning loved ones into compost. The deceased would then act as fertilizer for the cemetery.

Turning back to natural burials is believed to reduce the harsh impact that burials have on our environment and will also provide a more open, natural space because the cemeteries wouldn’t be cluttered with headstones.

“I mean we already destroy trees, why not put some back afterwards,” said Clayton Jensen, sophomore. “We are pretty screwed up as a species. We destroy everything, so it’s good to put something back once we are done.”

Jensen said he believes planting more trees will give us more time on this planet.