Green Burial Method Turns Loved Ones Into Trees

Have you ever considered†what might be a more†eco-friendly alternative to coffins? How about organic burial pods where, instead of headstones, trees are planted on top.

Two Italian designers–Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel– came up with up a project called Capsula Mundi, an innovative design concept with an environmental twist that addresses the exorbitant use of natural resources associated with traditional burials.

Described as “the first Italian project created to promote the realization of green cemeteries in our country,” Capsula Mundi is an egg-shaped pod created to house a deceased human body in the fetal position, which eventually becomes nutrients that nourish the tree above.

Talk about getting back to your roots.

The idea is similar in nature to the biodegradable urns with a tree seed inside that Care2 shared with readers back in September only without the cremation aspect, and the biodegradable Capsula Mundi is planted like a seed in the soil with a tree seed planted on top of it instead of inside the pod.

Both propose a solution to the fact that coffin-burials and cremation alike take their toll on the environment.†These projects†envision cemeteries becoming forests instead of tombstone-filled lots, with not a single tree harmed in order to function as the final resting place for loved ones.

When you visit a deceased loved one at the cemetery, you would be looking at an oak tree instead of a tombstone. Or eucalyptus, or olive, and the list goes on.

The reasoning behind Capsula Mundi is simple. “To make a coffin nowadays you cut down an old tree,Ē the project statement reads. ďA coffin has a short life span and is a product of our society. The growth of a tree needs from 10 to 40 years and a coffin is used for three days.”

To give you an idea of what we bury here in the U.S. besides our loved ones, one green burial ground†cites the following figures compiled by Mary Woodsen, VP Pre-Posthumous Society of Ithaca, New York, and a science writer at Cornell University.

Through use of coffins, the United States buries every year:

  • 30 million board feet of hardwoods, including exotic woods
  • 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid, which includes formaldehyde
  • 180,544,000 pounds of steel
  • 5,400,000 pounds of copper and bronze

On the genesis of the project, the designers describe a society detached from nature and over loaded with objects:

Regardless of the religion and culture we belong to, death is a biological phenomenon, itís the same thing for everyone. No designer ever thinks of a coffin but this becomes a way of reflecting on how distant we are from mother nature.

Image credit: Capsula Mundi.

There’s just one problem–Italian law forbids such burials, so the project is in concept only at this point. Apparently, Italian law dictates that only wood can be used to make coffins, and they must be tinned, plus cemeteries have to be protected in a controlled and closed area. But the designers are working on changing the legislation.

Chipping away at the astronomical amount of wood used to make traditional coffins would be nothing to bark at. As the†A+ media company puts it, “Coffins were so last year.”

In the meantime, given the huge amount of natural resources that gets buried in funeral tradition rites each year, there are a growing number of green burial options. (Not to mention, some pretty unusual human burial rituals.)

As far as tree-topped burial pods are concerned, time will tell whether forests of the dead rise up in the end.

What do you think about the woodless pod for a coffin? Would you bury your loved one in it, or for that matter, permit yourself to be buried in one–your final act to become mulch for a tree of your choosing? Tell us what you think in the comments.


Marsha O
Marsha Ong3 days ago

I love the idea. And would be totally in for it! The thought of having a memorial park that is filled with trees instead of just tombstones, is a dream come true!

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

I love the idea! TYFS!

Beth Ullman
Beth Ullman3 years ago

I love this concept! I had already told my family I wanted to be buried in a forest; this is even better! And a small marker can be added to the site, perhaps later attached to the tree, for those who want such memorials. This is a very Jewish way to be buried -- in Israel the dead are buried without embalming, wrapped only in a shroud (to fulfill the directive "from dust you came and to dust you shall return")-- and I would love to see it become mainstream here.

Renee M.
Renee M3 years ago

I am not a fan of this idea for myself or my loved ones. I prefer the cremation and biodegradable urn idea.

John W.
3 years ago

I think this is a great idea ☺

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Mary B.
Mary B3 years ago

I am totally for this and I will put off dieing untill it's possible to get planted in a tree grove. I don't care if others may not like this so long as they let those of us to do want it, do it.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla4 years ago

So cool!! I don't think everyone is going to love this...

Lucy Quine M.A.
Lucy Quine M.A.4 years ago

I'm on the organ donation register, but I'd love whatever is left of me to be dealt with in this manner.

Sima Arzumanyan
Sima Arzumanyan4 years ago

I would consider this idea for my own burial!