These egg-shaped, biodegradable burial pods allow your body to become the “seed” of a new tree when you die
Every year Americans cut down 4 million acres of hardwood forest to bury our dead.
Once our bodies are “preserved” and sealed into wooden or metal caskets, they are buried in vast fields of granite tombstones, along with nearly a million gallons of formaldehyde per year.
These cemeteries or “memorial parks” — which together use up a million acres of otherwise fertile U.S. land — are typically covered in heavily watered and synthetically fertilized lawns.
But dying doesn’t have to take such a toll on the environment.
Italian artists have designed eco-friendly, biodegradable “coffins” that essentially allow you to turn yourself into a tree when you die, instead of cutting one down:
The Capsula Mundi is an egg-shaped pod into which the body is placed in the fetal position and then planted with a seed, ideally chosen by the deceased before they die.
The pod then germinates and grows into a tree; “a living memorial to the person we’ve lost,” designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel say.
Citelli and Bretzel hope that one day their pods will transform the cold, grey landscape of cemeteries today into vibrant, green forests for the future.
These human-fertilized forests would sequester carbon, rather than releasing it, as cemeteries and land clear-cut for coffins do, creating a healthier environment for future generations.
As our population continues to double in size, natural, woodland burials might become more popular. They are currently legal in much of Northern Europe.
In places where they aren’t, there is a mini Capsula Mundi available for burying a loved one’s ashes, It should be noted, however, that cremated ashes are sterile and do not supply nutrients back into the earth, the way a body left to decompose in the soil does.
If you’re wondering whether a human can really feed a tree, consider the story of an apple tree found growing on top of the graves of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, and his wife Mary Sayles. The roots of the tree were found to have grown around their bodies and assumed the shape of human skeletons.
The tree literally “ate the humans,” writes Lierre Keith in her book The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability, explaining that the bones provided a good source of calcium for the roots.