If you want to minimize your carbon footprint even in death, a biodegradable burial pod might be something worth considering.
As people are buried six feet underground, the wood, the metals, and the synthetic cushioning used in traditional coffins and the concrete around reinforced graves continue to pollute the earth.
Plenty of energy goes into producing these materials, and if you think about it, they aren’t practical because these things are used for a short time and buried. Worse, they’re not going to break down quickly.
Memorial parks use acres of land and take up significant amounts of water and pesticides to keep their lawns green. And if you think cremation is a “lesser evil,” it’s actually no better.
This process releases harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, so it’s not exactly as environment-friendly as many people would like to believe.
According to Susan Dobscha, editor of the book Death and a Consumer Culture, the most environment-friendly way to die is this:
“The best way is to allow your body to feed the earth or ocean in a way that is sustainable for future generations,” she wrote in an email to Tech Insider.
Two Italian designers, Raoul Bretzel and Anna Citelli, came up with an option to do just that—the Capsula Mundi, an egg-shaped organic casket that will turn your body into a tree.
Bretzel and Citelli say that the biodegradable plastic shell breaks down once it’s buried and provides nutrients to the young tree planted right above it.
Their goal is to litter cemeteries with trees instead of tombstones, reduce waste on earth, and create new life out of death.
The pair first came up with the idea of Capsula Mundi in 2003, when they saw lots of furniture trashed at the end of “Salone del Mobile,” Milan’s famous design fair.
The competition was about designing new things, but it seemed that nobody cared about its future impact or whether anyone would actually use the inventions.
“We started thinking about projects that could have an environmental aspect,” Bretzel said.
“Death is part of our life but at design fairs nobody cares about that because it’s one side of our life that we don’t want to look at. We don’t like to think of death as part of life.”
Here’s how the burial pods will work. Ashes will be held in small egg-shaped biodegradable urns, while bodies covered in a cloth made of natural fibers will be laid down in a fetal position in bigger pods.
The Capsula will then be buried as a seed in the earth. Eventually, the bacteria in the soil will break down the bioplastic, which is made from potato and corn starches.
Then, the ashes will come into contact with the ground without dramatically its chemical balance.
A tree—chosen in life by the deceased or the family—will be planted on top of it to serve as a memorial for the departed. Over time, the microbes and nutrients from the decaying corpse would nourish the growing tree and help it grow.
“Family and friends will continue to care for the tree as it grows. Cemeteries will acquire a new look and, instead of the cold grey landscape we see today, they will grow into vibrant woodlands,” according to the Capsula Mundi website.
There is enough science and agreement that green solutions such as this biodegradable burial pod are a workable afterlife option.
Unfortunately, it isn’t legal worldwide. While it’s approved in North America and Canada, this type of burial isn’t allowed in Italy.
The Capsula Mundi is currently being produced for the ashes as the company needs more time to verify and test the Capsula for bodies. The urns are currently available on the website and can be delivered nationwide free of charge.
You may visit the Capsula Mundi website and watch the video below for more information:
What do you think of this green burial approach? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this story.