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Large oak tree in a meadow with the sun shining through its branches

Tree Pod Burials: A Life After Death

A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark

But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
“How can you still be standing Oak?”

The oak tree said, “I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew.”
– Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.

Hands holding a tree sprout

Humble Beginnings

For centuries, trees have been associated with unmovable strength, wisdom, power, protection, and most recently, a new way to be buried and honored after death. Tree pod burials are a very straightforward concept which involve putting human remains into biodegradable pods rather than traditional caskets.

These urns are meant to break down over time allowing the encapsulated remains to be broken down into the soil and become fertilizer which results in the tree growing in place of a headstone. As of now, it is most common for tree pod burials to be for cremated remains but have the potential for the entire body to be encapsulated as well. If a body is placed in a capsule, it cannot be embalmed or otherwise prepared and will be placed in the fetal position within the pod.

The tree pod burial concept was introduced in 2016 by two Italian designers, Francesco D’Angelo and Adriano Del Ferro. Their burial system, known as Capsula Mundi which is “world’s capsule” in Latin, consisted of human remains, typically cremated, wrapped in a natural fiber cloth that are then stored in an eco-friendly, egg-shaped pod.

Once the pod is implanted in the ground, a tree is planted directly above it, as time passes the egg will break down and the remains will undergo the process of decay. During the decaying process, nutrients and microbes from the remains will nourish the tree as it disintegrates, aiding extra aid allowing for the tree to grow and thrive.

Growing Green with Interest

As people start gravitating towards more green burial options and past traditional funeral services, we notice tree pod burials popping up more frequently. With worldwide issues stemming from climate change and individuals wanting to be more eco-conscious, traditional funerals that put nonbiodegradable materials such as hardwood, steel and toxic embalming chemicals into the earth are slowly losing traction and interest quickly as more alternatives make themselves available.

Hands holding potted seedling

Beyond the need to be eco-friendly, tree pod burials are also significantly cheaper than traditional funeral services. Traditional services can cost up to $12,000 while tree pod burials can range from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on price of the urn and cremation services in your state. Typically, the biodegradable urn costs $457 but there are cheaper alternatives available as well. You will also need to plan out the cost of a tree but typically a sapling can cost around $55 but it truly depends on the tree chosen.

Other costs will lay in where exactly you want to plant your tree. If you have land or special permission to plant, you can save serious money on burial plots. If you go this route, be sure to check local laws because not every jurisdiction allows for human remains to be buried on private property. On the other hand, if you decide on a conservation burial land, burial fees are typically required to acquire land and protect the tree, these fees can be anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on the land.

While initially, burial pods seem costly, they are still significantly cheaper than traditional funerals offering budgetary relief, a smaller environmental impact while the tree will continually contribute by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, and wildlife support for years to come.

Choosing A New Life

While tree pod burials are still relatively new and can be off-putting to those who have not considered nontraditional burial practices, the popularity of creating a life after death has proven enticing enough to create a real need for it in the funeral industry. Tree pod burials are the answer for individuals who want to be eco-conscious with their after-life plans and ease the financial, environmental, and emotional burden that are typically associated with funerals. If you or a loved one is looking into tree pod burials, be sure to follow all state or jurisdiction guidelines and regulations before beginning the process.

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